Phipps Stable's Smuggler gave Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey his first win in the Mother Goose (gr. I) when the 3-year-old filly turned in a well-measured neck victory over Spun Sugar at Belmont Park Saturday.
The Mother Goose, which was worth $300,000, is one of the few grade I races in New York that McGaughey had not won, a curiousity considering all the top 3-year-old fillies that he has saddled for the Phipps family over the years. The late-developing Smuggler won her first graded stakes race.
"She was as relaxed as she could be," said McGaughey. "I think when she made the lead she tried to pull herself up. She is still learning. I am tickled to death for her."
This was the second Mother Goose victory for the Phipps family. Ogden Phipps, the late patriarch of the Phipps Stable, won the Mother Goose with Funloving in 1961.
"This is pretty exciting for me, having never won this race," McGaughey said. "We have run in it a bunch of times and have been second and third."
Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Summerly, the 6-5 favorite in the short field of six, checked in with a third-place finish after leading early and later pressuring Spun Sugar in the 1 1/8-mile event before tiring close to home. Summerly finished two lengths behind the runner-up.
"I had to take a run at Spun Sugar turning for home," Summerly's jockey Jerry Bailey said. "I couldn't get by her. She never folded the tent."
All three fillies battled fiercely down the stretch, but Edgar Prado aboard Smuggler prevailed on the outside with mainly a hand ride while making spare use of his whip. The final time for the one-turn test was 1:48 2/5 on a fast track.
Smuggler, a winner of two of three starts in 2005, finished second to Round Pond in the one-mile Acorn (gr. I) at Belmont June 4, beaten by 1 1/2 lengths. The extra furlong proved helpful for the daughter of Unbridled-Inside Information (Private Account).
The bay filly improved her record to 4-2-0 in six lifetime starts while pushing her earnings to $334,600.
Smuggler was in hand on the inside, racing slightly off the pace as Summerly broke on top while staying wide and leading through an easy opening quarter-mile of :24 before conceding the lead to Spun Sugar.
Spun Sugar, with Javier Castellano aboard, made her way to the front when veering to the inside, completing the half in :46 2/5 and six furlongs in 1:10 3/5. Smuggler, who steadied slightly early in the race when Spun Sugar cut over, moved into contention on the turn while three wide. Prado took a quick look over his shoulder as they straightened away for the stretch run and, with no danger emerging from behind, bore down on the leaders down the lane to win with something left.
"I bided my time," Prado said. "She was just galloping along when she got to the leaders. She is a very nice filly. I think she forgot to keep going. She kind of pulled herself up. She could have won by a little more."
"Spun Sugar did something coming out of the chute," McGaughey said. "Summerly was way on the outside so it set up great for us. We were in the clear and we were right there while they were worrying about each other."
Smuggler paid $6.60, $3.50, and $2.30 as the second choice in the field. Spun Sugar returned $3.50 and $2.30. Summerly's show was $2.20.
"She took the worst of it the whole way, but she ran a big race," said Spun Sugar's trainer Todd Pletcher. "I liked her race today. She has run good every time."
Seeking the Ante finished fourth. Lady Pegasus and Winning Season trailed.
The Mother Goose is the first leg of the Triple Tiara. The series, which was redesigned in 2003, continues with the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) at Belmont on July 23 and the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga on Aug. 20.