ELMONT, NY – China Horse Club International and breeder Clearsky Farms’ Abel Tasman bounced back from her disappointing effort on Kentucky Derby Day in a big way on Saturday, displaying her signature devastating turn of foot in mid-stretch to easily streak away from her foes and take the Grade 1, $750,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park.
The Ogden Phipps is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Abel Tasman receiving an automatic berth in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
Breaking a bit slowly from post 6 under Mike Smith as the even-money favorite, Abel Tasman took time gathering herself in the opening 1/4-mile while Ivy Bell led through the opening fraction in :23.58. Once she found herself, Abel Tasman ranged up rapidly and overtook the lead halfway down the back, securing command after a 1/2-mile in :46.36. Continuing to carry the advantage into the far turn, Abel Tasman was briefly met by Pacific Wind along her outside, but the challenge was short-lived. While Pacific Wind came under a drive before straightening for home, Smith continued cruising patiently aboard the leader. With a furlong remaining, Smith gave her the cue, and it was all over from there. Under a brisk hand ride, Abel Tasman widened her lead with ease, hitting the wire 7 1/2 lengths in front in a final time of 1:40.36 for the 1 1/16-mile main track event.
“Today I was able to let her get into stride, and she really loves this surface here, too,” Smith said of the winning filly that took the 2017 Grade 1 Acorn Stakes over the same track. “She loves Belmont Park. Some of her best races have been here, and even last year was just incredible over this track.”
Though no match for the champion, Ivy Bell was able to re-take second in the stretch and held sway by 1 3/4 lengths over Unbridled Mo, with Pacific Wind fading to finish fourth. Unchained Melody and Berned completed the order of finish.
Abel Tasman’s victory was her first of 2018 following a lackluster season debut in the Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs last May. The 4-year-old daughter of Quality Road improved her overall record to 13-7-4-0 with a career bankroll of $2,412,385.
“I am so proud of her,” Baffert said. “She’s one of my favorite all-time horses. Her race at Churchill Downs was a disappointment. She didn’t run well. You could tell today the light got turned on. She couldn’t have looked any better coming into this race.”
Abel Tasman returned $4 to win, $3.10 to place, and $2.40 to show. Ivy Bell brought back $5.70 to place and $3.60 to show, while Unbridled Mo paid $2.80 to show.