Sightseek with Jerry Bailey up is led into Victory Lane after winning the Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont.
The Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park is one of the premier races for older fillies and mares of the east coast. A compact but classy field of four went to the gate in this year's edition, with 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri sent off as the 4-5 favorite in the $285,000 event. Also in the field is last year's winner Sightseek, from the powerful Juddmonte stable and trained by Bobby Frankel..
When the field got underway in the 1 1/16 mile race, favored Azeri went to the front along the rail under jockey Pat Day, with 5-2 second choice Sightseek keeping close contact and 3-1 third choice Storm Flag Flying just outside of her. Azeri led the quartet through an initial quarter of 23.32 and a half in 45.73. Rounding the turn, Jerry Bailey sent Sightseek to the lead, getting 6 furlongs in 1:10.18, as Azeri began to fade from the quick early pace.
Storm Flag Flying and 12-1 longshot Passing Shot easily went by Azeri, but by mid stretch Sightseek was 6 lengths clear. John Velazquez put in a late rally aboard Storm Flag Flying but it was too late, as Sightseek took the winner's share easily by 3 1/4 lengths in 1:41.46 over the fast track. It was a long 6 1/2 lengths back to Passing Shot in third, and 2 more lengths back to pacesetter Azeri in last.
Results Chart from DRF.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Sightseek Bailey 6.70 4.40 - 4 Storm Flag Flying Velazquez 4.10 - 2 Passing Shot Migliore - Winning Time: 1:41.46 $2 Exacta 3-4 18.60
Sightseek alone out front at the finish of the Ogden Phipps Handicap. Winning trainer Bobby Frankel said, "I thought Azeri would get the easy lead, but [Sightseek] hooked her all the way. She loves this racetrack. I didn't know she had Azeri until just before the quarter-pole. Azeri obviously didn't run her race. It's a great win. She's a great filly." Asked about possibly starting in the Breeders' Cup Distaff in the fall, Frankel added, "If they had the Breeders' Cup here (at Belmont), she'd be 1-to-100. I probably won't even run her (at Lone Star Park)."
Jerry Bailey takes a look back in the stretch trying to find some competition. Winning jockey Jerry Bailey said, "Azeri threw in the towel leaving the 3/8 pole and left me on the lead. She warmed up normal. She was kind of aggressive going into the gate. I didn't want Azeri to get away. She was in command at every pole."
John Velazquez, aboard Storm Flag Flying, said, "It was a good effort and I am very proud of her. Considering all of the things that happened to her in the paddock, she overcame everything and ran good."
D. Wayne Lukas, trainer of beaten favorite Azeri, said, "We're trying to figure out why and when. I'm not so sure she cares for this racetrack. She's run twice here and she's run two of her sub-par races here. I'm glad we don't have another one. Physically, she looks fine. We'll research it out and come up with something. Obviously that's not the mare we expected. Pat (Day, jockey) said he thought she struggled with it too. He said she didn't seem comfortable and had her ears back instead of forward, like she normally does. Those are all tell-tale signs."
Photos copyright 2004 Walter Pitcher, used with permission.
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