Spun Sugar defeats Happy Ticket in Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn in April.

Spun Sugar defeats Happy Ticket in Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn in April.

Jeff Coady

Take D' Tour Tries Spun Sugar in Phipps H.

(from Belmont Park report)
With a chance to take her place among the top older mares in the country, Take D' Tour tries to stay unbeaten at Belmont Park when she starts in the $300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at 1 1/16 miles.

Seven fillies and mares were entered in the Phipps, including Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) winner Spun Sugar, the 120-pound highweight and likely favorite.

Take D' Tour's ascension in the older filly and mare ranks has coincided with a trainer change to Calder-based David Fawkes, who has saddled her to three blowout victories in only four starts. In fact, Take D' Tour has won her last three starts, including the Shuvee Handicap (gr. II), by a combined 19 ½ lengths.

"You're always hopeful with all your horses, but if you told me I would be training one of the top mares in the country by June I don't think I would have believed you," Fawkes said. "I had high expectations for her, but she's definitely taken her game up a few notches this year. She's an exciting horse to train."

Take D' Tour was impressive in back-to-back allowance victories at Gulfstream Park over the winter, but the one-mile Shuvee was a huge step up in class for the Florida bred. The Shuvee featured an all-star cast, led by last year's 3-year-old filly champion, Smuggler, and Indian Vale, who was an Eclipse finalist as well.

Take D' Tour had no trouble leading from flag fall to finish. Grade I winner Balletto was her nearest pursuer and was beaten 5 ½ lengths for the victory in the one-turn mile event.

Take D' Tour teams up with jockey Cornelio Velasquez.

Champion trainer Todd Pletcher won the Phipps last year with Ashado. Pletcher has the horse to beat this time around in Spun Sugar, a 4-year-old Awesome Again  filly.

She raced in last summer's biggest races for 3-year-old fillies, but never broke through with a victory while finishing second in the Mother Goose (gr. I), third in the Coaching Club (gr. I) and second in the Alabama (gr. I).

Spun Sugar, however, has returned a stronger 4-year-old and is 2-for-2 this year. She took an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park in March, then scored the finest victory of her career in Oaklawn's Apple Blossom (gr. I), defeating grade I winner Happy Ticket by a neck.

Spun Sugar, who has worked regularly at Belmont Park over the last month, drew post 3.

Nothing But Fun has won five of six starts, suffering her lone defeat in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I). A 4-year-old filly by Dixie Union, Nothing But Fun owns stakes wins in the Victory Ride, Cotillion (gr. II) and Mil Kilates. She makes her second start of the year in the Phipps after scoring a workmanlike victory in the May 11 Mil Kilates. Overall, Nothing But Fun is 3-for-4 at Belmont Park.

Balletto became the first horse bred in the United Arab Emirates to win a grade I race in the United States when she won Belmont's Frizette in 2004. Although she has been beaten by Take D' Tour in her last two starts, Balletto improved a decent amount in the Shuvee, which was her second start off a 17-month layoff caused by a bout of colic.

$300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I, Race 9, 5:15 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Bending Strings (KY), 116, Eibar Coa
2. In the Gold (KY), 116, Kent J. Desormeaux
3. Spun Sugar (KY), 120, John R. Velazquez
4. Take D' Tour (FL), 117, Cornelio H. Velasquez
5. Nothing But Fun (KY), 116, Richard Migliore
6. Grecian Lover (FL), 114, Mike E. Smith
7. Balletto (UAE), 116, Javier Castellano