Justify wasn’t Bob Baffert’s only winner Saturday. He teamed up with jockey Mike Smith and owner the China Horse Club to win the $750,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles. Abel Tasman, winner of last year’s Kentucky Oaks, made a powerful move on the backstretch and swept to a 7 ½-length win.
“She gets away slow and then she makes that big middle move,” Smith said. “Sometimes it’s better to let her do it, if they’re going slow. If they’re going fast and she does it, that’s when I’ve gotten myself in trouble and that’s happened before.”
Last year Baffert didn’t have a horse in the Belmont Stakes, but he and Smith teamed up to win all four of the stakes they entered. One of them was Abel Tasman, who won the Acorn Stakes, joining West Coast, American Anthem and Mor Spirit in the winner’s circle that day.
“Last year she was part of the Belmont tour de force,” Baffert said. “It’s good to see these great mares back. She’s a champion and you want to see a champion run like that.”
Baffert’s other winner on Saturday was Hoppertunity, winning the $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational for older horses going 1 ½ miles. Under Flavien Prat, he entered the stretch in third and then bulled his way past the leaders to win by 2 ¼ lengths.
Hoppertunity is 7 years old and has earned more than $4.6 million.
“He’s like the forgotten horse,” Baffert said. “The stallion farms aren’t calling looking to buy him even though he’s made all that money, so we’re just having fun with him.”
Bolt d’Oro ran a disappointing last of 11 horses in the $1.2-million Metropolitan. He broke alertly and flirted with the lead through the opening half of the mile race, but he could never seem to get any momentum around the long turn and started to back up in the stretch. Jockey Florent Geroux did not push the Mick Ruis-trained colt through the stretch.
The race was won by Bee Jersey, who just got a nose down in front of Mind Your Biscuits. Bee Jersey paid $8.50 to win.
Bolt d’Oro had an exceptional year in 2017, winning the Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner Stakes. He got a wide trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and by some accounts, should have been awarded horse of the year based on his previous races. But Good Magic got the 2-year-old Eclipse.