Belmont Park Race Report: Sight to See

Belmont Park Race Report: Sight to See
Photo: Ap/NYRA Adam Coglianese
Sightseek crosses the finish line to win the Ogden Phipps, Saturday at Belmont Park.
Published in the June 28 issue of The Blood-Horse
Juddmonte Farms' homebred Sightseek splashed her way to a convincing five-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park on June 21. The race was run during a severe thunderstorm, as the first day of summer offered little relief from the intense rains that have plagued the New York City area over the past month.

Take Charge Lady, who was fractious in the post parade, sprang to the early lead beneath jockey Edgar Prado, racing well off the watery rail. Jockey Jerry Bailey hustled the Bobby Frankel-trained Sightseek away from the gate to keep close contact with the pacesetter. Bailey then settled the 4-year-old daughter of Distant View one length behind the leader through an opening quarter-mile of :22.52.

Both riders got what they wanted from the early exchange.

Prado was anxious to put Select Stable's Take Charge Lady on the lead over the sloppy, speed-favoring oval. "Speed was good today," said Prado. "She's a nice filly on the front end."

Bailey, on the other hand, was playing a game of "wait and see" with Sightseek. "I wanted to leave there strong enough to make Take Charge Lady either use herself if she was intent on getting the lead, or I was going to take it," Bailey said. "Edgar (Prado) seemed like he wanted it badly, so I backed off."

Approaching the half-mile marker, Bailey moved his mount to the outside, sending Sightseek up to confront the Kenny McPeek-trained Take Charge Lady. The Hall of Fame rider was focused on eliminating any chance of getting boxed-in, should the leader back up. The two were on even terms as they made the last of Belmont's sweeping far turn, racing six furlongs in a swift 1:09.35.

Frankel, who watched from the racing office--the same venue from which he witnessed Bailey guide Empire Maker to victory in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I)--wasn't nearly as confident as his rider out on the racetrack. "All through the race, I didn't think she was handling it (slop). She didn't look like she was on the bridle," said Frankel. "But Jerry (Bailey) said that he didn't want her on the bridle. He wanted her relaxed."

Turning for home, Sightseek finally put her chestnut nose in front of her bay rival. Prado drew his whip, exhorting Take Charge Lady from the left side. But in a matter of strides, momentum had carried Bailey, who was busy at Sightseek's right flank, to a widening two-length advantage.

Bailey stole a quick peek under his right arm, as his filly streaked past the eighth pole. But none of the other three runners in the field would make a serious impact on the event.

Sightseek, a half-sister to the grade I-winning Tates Creek, stopped the timer in 1:40.89, registering her sixth win from 10 career starts, with four second-place finishes. Bred in Kentucky, Sightseek tallied her second consecutive grade I event, having captured the seven-furlong Humana Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.

Coming into the Ogden Phipps, Sightseek, who is out of the Nureyev mare Viviana, was untested in the off going. "Her breeding suggested that she might like it (slop). But nobody thought she'd have to move up on it," said Bailey. "She exuded a lot of class. Those class horses will run over anything."

Take Charge Lady, a 4-year-old daughter of Dehere out of the Rubiano mare Felicita, finished in the runner-up spot. She has won (nine) or placed (six) in 15 of 17 career starts, including victories in two grade I races at Keeneland as a 3-year-old (Ashland and Spinster).

Steeplechase Farm's Mandy's Gold, a 5-year-old mare by Gilded Time from the barn of Michael E. Gorham, finished another five lengths back in third. Dogwood Stable's Smok'n Frolic and Stuart S. Janney III's Lady Liberty rounded out the small field.

BELMONT NOTES

On June 20, Stronach Stable's Ghostzapper, who is trained by Bobby Frankel, exploded through the stretch to capture an allowance event by 3 1/4 lengths in 1:09.39. The 3-year-old colt by Awesome Again dropped far back early, before circling the field four-wide under a hand ride by jockey Javier Castellano. A half-brother to multiple stakes winner City Zip, Ghostzapper won his second race from three starts. The colt, who was returning from six months on the sidelines, was a nine-length winner in his debut at Hollywood Park last November before finishing fourth behind Scrimshaw in an allowance race at Santa Anita.

(Chart, Equibase)

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