Clairiere delivered another thrilling victory in Saturday’s $500,000 Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont Park, becoming only the fourth female to win the prestigious 1 1/16-mile event in consecutive years. The five-year-old established herself as the clear leader in the filly and mare older dirt division, overcoming a slow pace to gamely prevail by a half-length over Search Results.
A head third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), Clairiere opened 2023 with a runner-up finish in the Azeri (G2) at Oaklawn Park. She made amends for the setback, closing determinedly to nail Azeri winner Secret Oath by a neck on the wire in the Apple Blossom H. (G1) in mid-April, and was freshened eight weeks in advance of the Phipps by trainer Steve Asmussen.
“I’m unbelievably proud of her,” Asmussen said. “What a special mare. For her to continue to win races on this level is just incredible. She’s always been top class and if anything, she’s better than she’s ever been.”
Joel Rosario rides the classy daughter of Curlin for owner/breeder Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables, and Clairiere left the starting gate as the 1.75-1 favorite among six rivals. She dropped back to last at the start, rating about five lengths back as Played Hard showed the way under restraint while well off the rail, establishing the opening quarter-mile in :24.32. Gamestonks advanced along the inside to take a clear lead briefly, reaching the half-mile mark in :48.63, but gave way on the far turn.
Played Hard and Search Results moved forward to challenge for the lead nearing the conclusion of the far turn, and Search Results forged a short lead on the outside in upper stretch. Clairiere began to make progress on the bend and swung wide into the stretch under encouragement from Rosario.
Search Results was up a couple of lengths on Clairiere entering deep stretch, but her rival had all the momentum on the outside. Clairiere kept charging to win going away under the wire, stopping the teletimer in 1:43.40.
“It was a good trip, but at a slow pace, a little bit slow,” Rosario said. “We thought it was going to be a little bit quicker. She knows how to get it done and win a race.”
Clairiere is the first foal from the Bernardini mare Cavorting, winner of the 2016 Ogden Phipps. The three-time Grade 1 winner earned more than $2 million for Stonestreet. Clairiere has now earned $3,106,382 from a 19-8-5-3 record.
“I am very proud and of course her mother (Cavorting]) won this race, too,” Banke said. “It’s been a family tradition. She does have a late kick and Joel left it just enough to give me a slight coronary condition, but she made it through. We’re trying (to win an Eclipse Award). We were close last year, really close. But maybe this year we’ll do it.
Search Results, off as the 2.25-1 second choice, held second by 2 1/2 lengths over last-out La Troienne (G1) winner Played Hard.
“It was a tough beat,” said Flavien Prat, rider of Search Results. “She ran a good race. Bad beat.”
Pass the Champagne was several more lengths back in fourth, and Secret Oath and Gamestonks completed the order.
Clairiere edged eventual champion Malathaat by a head in last year’s Ogden Phipps, and she also captured the Shuvee (G2) last season. Now victorious in six stakes, including the 2021 Cotillion (G1), the chestnut has also placed eight graded stakes.
“To continue winning is the goal with her, but we know where we’re aimed at with the Breeders’ Cup (Distaff at Santa Anita on Nov. 4) as her year-end target,” Asmussen said.