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Close Hatches shuts down Princess of Sylmar in Ogden Phipps

By NYRA Press Office | 06/07/2014 08:34 PM ET
Close Hatches
PHOTO/Adam Coglianese

Close Hatches turned back a furious late challenge from Princess of Sylmar and held on to win a thrilling edition of the Grade 1, $1 million Ogden Phipps on Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park by a head.
Perfectly piloted by Joel Rosario, Close Hatches relaxed well behind Classic Point as she led the field of six fillies through fractions of 22.55 and 45.02 seconds. Moving up to take command on the turn, Close Hatches straightened for home with Princess of Sylmar, Antipathy and favored Beholder all poised to pounce. Digging in through the final yards, Close Hatches refused to yield and hit the wire in 1:40.55 for the 1 1/16 miles.
"Perfect trip," said Rosario. "I thought maybe we would be on the lead or second, but when I saw those two horses going quick, I just wanted to get good position and take my time. They stopped a little early so I took the lead.
"[Princess of Sylmar] was closing; she's a nice filly. I knew she was going to come so I just wanted to have enough left."
The victory was the third in as many starts this year for Close Hatches, who is owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott. A 4-year-old daughter of First Defence, Close Hatches entered the Ogden Phipps off wins in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom and Grade 2 Azeri at Oaklawn Park.
Last year, she won the Grade 2 Gazelle, the Grade 1 Mother Goose and the Grade 1 Cotillion, finishing second to Ogden Phipps favorite Beholder in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
"I think when they advertised that this race would be held on this particular day, I think everybody started pointing to it," said Mott of the Ogden Phipps, which was a new addition to the Belmont Stakes Day card. "There was a lot of build up to it, at least for us. We were aware that Beholder was planning on coming in, that Princess of Sylmar was coming, and that anybody else who had a horse who was in good form and thought they had a chance in the race would show up for it. There has been a lot of anticipation. We've been pointing to the race since early spring, and it's just one of those cases where things worked out, where you make a plan and it comes to fruition."
The third choice, Close Hatches returned $7.80 for a $2 win bet and earned $535,000. Her record now stands at 8-2-0 from 11 starts with earnings of $2,482,300. 
Princess of Sylmar, victorious in four Grade 1s last year, had made only one other start this year, easily winning the Cat Cay on April 6 at Belmont Park.
"My filly certainly ran her tail off today and it was just a tough beat," said Princess of Sylmar's trainer, Todd Pletcher. "The pace was much faster than I anticipated, and today she simply was not good enough."
Beholder, whose four-race winning streak was snapped, finished fourth, three-quarters of a length behind Antipathy.
"My hat's off to the top two," said Beholder's jockey, Gary Stevens. "People got what they wanted to see. We all came into the last eighth of a mile on equal terms. It was a fair trip for everybody; a good horse race. I'm disappointed we didn't win, but I'm proud of her."
Belle Gallantey and Classic Point completed the order of finish.