It’s Tricky edges Cash for Clunkers in Phipps; Awesome Maria third
It’s Tricky ran her winning streak to three and Awesome Maria’s six-race streak came to an end Monday when Godolphin Racing’s 4-year-old daughter of Mineshaft wore down pacesetting Cash for Clunkers to win the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park by three-quarters of a length. Awesome Maria, the odds-on favorite, was never a factor and finished third. Time of the 1 1/16-mile main track race was 1:41.73 on a fast track. The winner carried 122 pounds, two fewer than the 124-pound high weight, Awesome Maria.
It’s Tricky, winning for the eighth time in 12 starts, was coming off victories in the March 3 Top Flight Handicap and April 14 Distaff Handicap, both at Aqueduct. Bred in Kentucky by Stonerside Stable, the filly out of Catboat, by Tale of the Cat, won the G1 Acorn at Belmont Park in her only previous effort over the track. She also won the G1 CCA Oaks at Saratoga. It’s Tricky is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and was ridden by Eddie Castro, who a half-hour earlier guided Better Lucky to victory in the G2 Sands Point. Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai is the owner of both It’s Tricky through his Godolphin Racing and Better Lucky through Darley.
Cash for Clunkers veered out into Awesome Maria at the start, pinching the daughter of Maria’s Mom back slightly, then went right to the the lead, setting fractions of :22.68, :45.78 and 1:09.34 for the opening six furlongs. It’s Tricky, who raced in second throughout, challenged on the turn for home, but Cash for Clunkers was a stubborn front-runner, only yielding in the final sixteenth of a mile after setting a one-mile split of 1:34.89. Awesome Maria went three wide into the stretch but was never a threat to the top two. Awesome Maria, a 5-year-old mare, won the 2011 Phipps under 124 pounds, then was sidelined until February, when she came back to win the G3 Sabin at Gulfstream Park over 3-year-old filly champion Royal Delta by eight lengths, then won the G3 Rampart by 2 1/4 lengths Her six-race winning streak began in Februrary 2011 at Gulfstream Park.
Quotes courtesy NYRA media office
Kiaran McLaughlin, winning trainer of It’s Tricky (No. 4): “She’s a special filly. Eddie [Castro] rode her very well. Rick Violette’s filly [runner-up Cash for Clunkers] was tough, wow! We just did get there. From the three-sixteenths pole to the eighth pole, I was worried – she wasn’t there yet. She ran great. We’re not sure what’s next for her.”
Eddie Castro, winning jockey aboard It’s Tricky (No. 4): “I put her right there, gave her a shot, and in the stretch she had to make her run. That’s her. The plan, number one, [was to focus on] Awesome Maria. But when you’re in the gate, it’s different. You break from the gate, and it changes. You have a decision. Awesome Maria didn’t break, and I put [It’s Tricky] right there.”
Rick Violette, trainer of runner-up Cash for Clunkers (No. 1): “She ran her eyeballs out. She was pressed from the middle of the turn. Eddie [Castro on It’s Tricky] rode a terrific race. I thought he would be more worried about Awesome Maria and maybe leave us alone a bit longer. We had to start running on the middle of the turn and it was a long, hard drive. For a filly that hasn’t really been pressed to the wire, she just really ran her eyeballs out. I am really, really proud of her. We found out today that she is a real filly.”
Todd Pletcher, trainer of beaten favorite and third-place finisher Awesome Maria (No. 2): “I thought she ran pretty well. I think I did a really poor job preparing her for this race. We stayed in Florida too long, got rained on a lot, missed a couple of works down there. Then I tried to make up for it here and breezed her on a sloppy track. I really did a bad job preparing her for this race. It wasn’t her fault. I’ll take the blame for it. We’ll go to Saratoga.”
John Velazquez, rider aboard beaten favorite and third-place finisher Awesome Maria (No. 2): “I had a perfect spot, I just didn’t come up with anything. She ran good; I just don’t think she ran her best race today. She was in a perfect spot, I thought I had them around the 3/8ths pole and when I started getting after her she was a just little flat. She didn’t come with the punch the way she normally does. They kept running as well and they went fast early. I just think she was a little flat today, no excuses.”