July 14, 2024

Clairiere to defend title in Ogden Phipps; Arabian Lion, General Jim highlight Woody Stephens

Clairiere wins the Apple Blossom Handicap (Photo by Coady Photography)

Nine stakes will be offered on Saturday’s Belmont Stakes Day program, including the $500,000 Ogden Phipps (G1) for fillies and mares, $400,000 Woody Stephens (G1) for three-year-old sprinters, and $250,000 Brooklyn (G2) for long-distance specialists.

Following a stirring neck win in the Apple Blossom (G1) at Oaklawn Park, Clairiere will seek a second consecutive tally in the 1 1/16-mile test at Belmont Park. The Steve Asmussen-trained mare rallied to defeat eventual champion Malathaat by a head in the 1 1/16-mile race last year, and the five-year-old daughter of Curlin is favored at 6-5 over five rivals Saturday. Joel Rosario rides.

The top three return from the La Troienne (G1) on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Played Hard recorded her first Grade 1 triumph, prevailing by a neck over Secret Oath, who was exiting a neck second in the Apple Blossom. Grade 1 queen Search Results missed by less than a length in third.

Ruffian (G2) winner Pass the Champagne, who was flattered when runner-up Idiomatic came back to win last Saturday’s Shawnee (G3) at Churchill Downs, will step up in class in good form for George Weaver.

The seven-furlong Woody Stephens came up enticing with a baker’s dozen entered.

General Jim will seek a third straight graded win, capturing the Swale (G3) at Gulfstream and May 6 Pat Day Mile (G2) off a three-month freshening, and Luis Saez guides the early 7-2 favorite. Arabian Lion brings quality early speed to the cutback, romping on the lead in the 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton S., and John Velazquez will be up.

Along with Arabian Lion, Bob Baffert will also send out Pat Day Mile runner-up Fort Bragg. Drew’s Gold will bring a perfect record to his first graded test, recording a convincing win most recently in the May 12 Gold Fever S. at Belmont. Gilmore has placed in consecutive graded sprints, and Federal Judge will make his stakes debut.

Eleven are set for the Brooklyn at 1 1/2 miles, and graded winner Warrant leads the way at 5-2 on the morning line. Runner-up in last year’s Santa Anita H. (G1), Warrant exits a frontrunning victory in the Isaac Murphy Overnight S. at Churchill Downs on May 3. Next, a Grade 2 scorer two starts back, is listed as the 3-1 second choice following a third in the Isaac Murphy as the favorite.

Other contenders include Bright Future, Calibrate, Lone Rock, and Red Run.