The Weekend Ahead At Belmont


UNRIVALED BELLE (Unbridled's Song) can add to her growing legacy with an initial top-level win in Saturday's $250,000 Ogden Phipps H. (G1) at Belmont Park, a 1 1/16-mile test for fillies and mares. A race that was under consideration for Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d'Oro), the Ogden Phipps is one of four graded stakes for older distaffers across the country this weekend, and the dilution effect shows. Like the Fleur de Lis H. (G2) at Churchill Downs, which Rachel Alexandra was entered in, the Ogden Phipps has attracted a field of only five.

Unrivaled Belle is undefeated in two outings over the Belmont main track, winning an allowance and the Real Prize S. at last year's fall meet. Following a second in the Gazelle S. (G1) at Aqueduct and a fourth in the La Canada S. (G2) over the Santa Anita Pro-Ride, the Bill Mott charge was a wire-to-wire winner of the Rampart S. (G3) at Gulfstream, then upended Rachel Alexandra last time in the La Troienne S. (G2) at Churchill. Regular rider Kent Desormeaux will be back in the saddle on the gray who will likely go favored.

FUNNY MOON (Malibu Moon) has won two of Belmont's most noted springtime events for fillies, the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) last year and the May 15 Shuvee H. (G2), but has done so in relatively modest fashion with BRIS Speed ratings of 94 and 93. Though she would have to improve in that department to defeated an in-form Unrivaled Belle, Funny Moon's four-for-five record over the strip rivals that of the favorite.

LIFE AT TEN (Malibu Moon) brings a three-race win streak into the Phipps, including a solid one-length victory in the April 17 Sixty Sails H. (G3) at Hawthorne. The Todd Pletcher trainee previously won twice during the Aqueduct winter meet in the Rare Treat S. and Snit S. John Velazquez, who was not aboard for any of the preceding three scores, climbs up on the mare for the first time since September.

Minor stakes winner PUMPKIN SHELL (Lion Heart), who was cross-entered in Saturday's Obeah S. (G3) at Delaware Park, and the allowance class MANITOBA MISS (D'wildcat) both appear out of their element against this field. Players Pool hits $552,535.80 Pick-6 at Belmont Park

After nearly taking down the lucrative Pick-6 pool on Belmont Stakes Day, the Players Pool returned on Wednesday to go after the Pick-6 carryover, which resulted in a pool that exceeded $4 million.

The panel, which consists of three expert handicappers, uses the funds to construct tickets aimed at winning the largest possible payoff. On Belmont Stakes Day, the Players Pool narrowly missed taking down the entire Pick-6 pool, instead settling for five large consolation payoffs, in addition to a superfecta score on the third jewel of the Triple Crown.

"It was heartbreaking to just miss out this past Saturday," explained Rich Nilsen, who captains the three-person Players Panel for TwinSpires. "Even though we were fortunate enough to hit the Belmont Stakes Superfecta nine times, and thus, turn a profit for the TwinSpires members, it was a bittersweet day having once again just missed a monumental payoff. I am thrilled that everything was able to fall into place this afternoon."

On Wednesday, the Players Pool was alive on two separate tickets heading into the final leg of the Pick-6. On one ticket, the members were alive to (#12) Aquit (Posse), who finished second. On a second ticket, the members were alive to six horses including the eventual runner-up. When (#11) Night Spirit (Chapel Royal) cruised home to a commanding victory, the Players Pool held a winning Pick-6 ticket worth $552,535.80. The pool also had 26 consolation tickets. After taxes, the Players Pool returned $437,386.00.



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