05/28/2012 4:48PM

Belmont Park: It's Tricky gets job done in Phipps

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
It's Tricky (left), ridden by Eddie Castro, runs down Cash for Clunkers in deep stretch to win the Ogden Phipps.

ELMONT, N.Y. - She may play games in the morning, but in the afternoon It's Tricky is all business.

After chasing the front-running Cash for Clunkers for more than a mile of the 1 1/16-mile Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap, It's Tricky, under Eddie Castro, caught that rival with 20 yards to go and won the $400,000 Phipps by three-quarters of a length at Belmont Park.

Cash for Clunkers, who ran an ambitious race on the lead under, finished second by 1 1/2 lengths over Awesome Maria, who had her six-race winning streak snapped. She's All In and Juanita completed the order of finish.

For It's Tricky, it was her eighth victory from 12 career starts and it was her third Grade 1 score.

"This is a special filly on our team. She means a lot to everybody from the boss on down," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "She's a homebred and just a wonderful filly. Even though she's a little tricky, when they run like this they're well worth it."

The win was third straight on Monday's Memorial Day card for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. It's Tricky raced under Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin banner, as did Buffum, who looked good winning a second-level allowance race in the sixth. Under his Darley banner, Sheikh Mohammed won the Grade 2 Sands Point with Better Lucky, trained by Tom Albertrani.

It's Tricky had won her first two starts this year at Aqueduct, including the seven-furlong Distaff on April 14. Going into the Phipps, McLaughlin thought It's Tricky might be tracking Awesome Maria, the defending Phipps winner.

But It's Tricky outbroke that rival and found herself chasing Cash for Clunkers, who from the rail went in splits of 22.68 seconds for the quarter, 45.78 for the half-mile and 1:09.34 for six furlongs.

"I broke good. I put her right there - she had to make it work," Castro said.

It's Tricky confronted Cash for Clunkers approaching the five-sixteenths pole, but Cash for Clunkers - in receipt of eight pounds from It's Tricky - initially held It's Tricky at bay.

But It's Tricky kept on coming and finally persevered past Cash for Clunkers to get the victory. It's Tricky, a daughter of Mineshaft, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.73 and returned $6.20.

"At the three-sixteenths to the eighth pole we weren't there yet and he was trying hard," McLaughlin said. "It was a great race. It was fast and they ran very well."

Awesome Maria, the highweight at 124 pounds, did not run as well she had in her last six starts, all graded stakes victories. John Velazquez thought he had Awesome Maria in a good position but when he asked the mare to run, she didn't fire.
"I was in a perfect spot. I thought I had them around the three-eighths pole," Velazquez said. "When I started getting after her she was a little flat. She didn't come with the punch she normally does."

Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Awesome Maria, took the blame for his mare's dull effort.

"I think I did a really poor job preparing her for this race," Pletcher said. "We stayed in Florida too long, got rained on a lot, missed a couple of works down there. Then I tried to make up for it here and breezed her on a sloppy track . . . It wasn't her fault. I'll take the blame for it."