Music Note, one of the top fillies in the nation last year when she was a three-time grade I winner, makes her 4-year-old seasonal debut in the $300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at Bemont Park June 13.
Owned by Godolphin Stable, the daughter of A.P. Indy has landed in a tough spot for her 2009 bow, facing a field that includes the red-hot Seattle Smooth as well as Music Note's stablemate, Seventh Street, a romping winner of Oaklawn Park's Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) in her most recent start in the Darley colors. In all, seven fillies and mares entered in the 1 1/16-mile Phipps, which is contested around one turn of Belmont's sweeping main track oval.
Music Note was last seen finishing third, three lengths behind the victorious Zenyatta, in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita Oct. 24. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, the bay filly won the Mother Goose (gr. I), Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) and Gazelle (gr. I) last season by a combined 23 lengths. She missed by a head of winning an epic renewal of the Alabama (gr. I) to Proud Spell, who went on to claim the 3-year-old filly divisional Eclipse honor over her rival. Proud Spell was retired this spring.
After her emphatic 8 1/2-length victory in the Gazelle, Music Note went to Santa Anita.
“It was a good race for her, but the gray filly (Zenyatta) blew right by her,” said assistant trainer Rick Mettee. “It was her first start on a synthetic surface, and she was only beaten three lengths, so she was hardly embarrassed.”
Music Note won four of six starts in 2008 and earned $833,600. She was training at Keeneland this spring before transferring to Belmont, where she has had four published workouts since May 19.
The Breeders' Cup loss to Zenyatta was Music Note's first stakes attempt against older horses and also her first race outside of New York. Assigned high weight of 122 pounds for the Phipps, she has proven particularly adept at Belmont, where she has won four times in five tries. Regular rider Javier Castellano will be aboard and they will break from post seven.
Seventh Street turned in her first stakes win when she was allowed to set a soft pace and led all the way en route to an impressive 5 3/4-length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Apple Blossom April 4.
The 4-year-old daughter of Street Cry finished a remarkable second in the seven-furlong Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr. II) at Laurel Park prior to that, notable because she broke in the air and spotted the field a dozen lengths before rallying five wide to get the place spot. The chestnut filly had been dominating in three non-stakes wins before the Fritichie and brings a 4-1-1 record in six starts and earnings of $416,000 to the race.
Previously trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Seventh Street makes her debut for bin Suroor. Rajiv Maragh takes the reins again. They will leave from post three with 119 pounds.
Seattle Smooth has won both of her starts in 2009 and four in a row dating back to last summer. Trained by Tony Dutrow for Mercedes Stables, the 4-year-old Quiet American filly started the year with a 5 3/4-length tally in Aqueduct's seven-furlong Bed o' Roses (gr. II) April 18, drawing off to defeat three opponents while in hand for jockey Ramon Dominguez, who will be aboard in the Phipps.
Dominguez and Seattle Smooth teamed up once again for victory in Belmont's one-mile Shuvee May 16. Bet down to 1-5, the bay filly prevailed by three-quarters of a length while forced to alter course to get the job done.
Seeking her first grade I win, Seattle Smooth, a lifetime winner of six of 12 starts and $791,160, will break from post two under 121 pounds.
The Phipps field also includes Briland Farm's Color Me Up and Darley's Sea Chanter, who ran second and third, respectively, in the Shuvee. Color Me Up, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, had a 1 1/2-length lead over Seattle Smooth in the lane and gave way only grudgingly, while the Todd Pletcher trainee Sea Chanter rallied four wide before flattening out a bit late.
Seventh Street, Music Note and Sea Chanter are coupled due to common ownership.
My Dinah and Nicksappealinglady, both coming off optional claiming allowance victories at Belmont last month, complete the field.
$300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I, Race 4, 2:36 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. My Dinah (NY), J L Espinoza, 113, K M Feron
2. Seattle Smooth (KY), R A Dominguez, 121, A W Dutrow
3. a-Seventh Street (KY), R Maragh, 119, S bin Suroor
4. Color Me Up (KY), C H Velasquez, 114, D W Lukas
5. Nicksappealinglady (FL), E S Prado, 113, G C Contessa
6. a-Music Note (KY), J Castellano, 122, S bin Suroor
7. a-Sea Chanter (KY), J R Velazquez, 114, T A Pletcher
a - Godolphin/Darley entry