Princess of Sylmar Credit David AlcosserMirror, mirror, on the wall…who’s the fairest filly of them all?
That is just one of the questions that will be answered on June 7 at Belmont Park when a fine group of females go to post for the grade 1 Ogden Phipps. Of course we all know about those inquiries surrounding the ever-elusive Triple Crown, but the mile and an eighth Phipps offers up the opportunity for Princess of Sylmar to claim her spot as the best older female.
“We think of the Princess as the people’s horse,” says owner and head of King of Prussia Stables Ed Stanco. “We have been amazed at the number of fans she has all across the country and we think the Phipps is a great opportunity to showcase her talents.”
The Princess indeed has many talents. As a three-year old, this Todd Pletcher trained filly won the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama Stakes, and Beldame. A very impressive resume as all these races were grade 1 events. Her season did end in disappointment as she finished sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic to end a superb year. But in reality, the loss at Santa Anita last November makes the Phipps even that much better as her conqueror, Beholder, will be starting in the Phipps and going off as the 7-5 favorite.
“Last year after the Eclipse Awards, B. Wayne Hughes (owner of Beholder) and I got together and decided we needed to find a race and get our fillies together,” says Stanco. “The Phipps looked like the perfect spot so here we are. Normally a matchup like this would get top billing, but we are ok with the Triple Crown being the main event because it gets our horses in front of more people and puts the sport more in the public eye. I think it is terrific for all.”
There is another filly that will have something to say about the outcome of the race and that is three-time grade 1 winner Close Hatches. As a grade 1 winner this year (Apple Blossom), this Bill Mott trained filly will also make winning this race even more important in deciding just who is the fastest older female. Yes that adds to the challenge, but it is one the Princess is primed for.
“We think the Princess is coming in in great shape,” says Stanco. “After 16 months of training and racing hard, we gave her a good six months rest. You do not always know whether a filly will come back with the desire to run and compete, but she seems to be back and ready to run. She has been putting weight on and looks to be in great shape.”
Claiming the crown as best older female will not be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. When the Princess steps into the starting gate, she will have an opportunity to be the best because she is racing against the best. Her closing style may be suited for this race as the speedy Beholder and rival Close Hatches could be dueling on the lead whilst the Princess and her kick comes from off the pace.
“This is the race we have been waiting for,” says Stanco. “The Princess truly has been a gift and a blessing for us and to have her in with this type company is fantastic. This is a terrific opportunity for us and all the rest of the horses in the race. One of these fillies will lay claim to best in class.”
Wonder who Ed Stanco thinks that will be.