06/11/2016 3:19PM

Cavorting aces stamina test in Ogden Phipps Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Cavorting, ridden by Florent Geroux, wins the Ogden Phipps Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths Saturday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Cavorting earned the right to be called the leader of the East Coast filly-and-mare handicap division with a convincing 2 1/2-length victory over Forever Unbridled and a star-studded field in the Grade 1, $1 million Ogden Phipps Stakes on Saturday at Belmont Park.

Cavorting gave trainer Kiaran McLaughlin his second straight Phipps victory. Wedding Toast was an even easier five-length winner of the race a year ago.

Cavorting rated about six or seven lengths off the early pace set by the outsider Desert Valley and did not have a horse beat as the field of seven approached the stretch. Cavorting, with jockey Florent Geroux aboard, circled six wide while launching her bid leaving the final bend, quickly ran by the leaders upon settling for the drive to open a comfortable advantage, and was not threatened thereafter.

Forever Unbridled, the early trailer, moved into closer contention near the inside after six furlongs, steadied along behind the leaders entering the stretch, angled outside, and finished with good energy once clear. She was a half-length in front of the rail-skimming Carrumba at the end. 

Curalina, the 9-5 favorite, stalked the pace, stuck her head in front after six furlongs, but lacked the necessary response through the final furlong. She finished fourth, followed by Sheer Drama, Stopchargingmaria, and the tiring Desert Valley.

The 1 1/16-mile Phipps marked the first time Cavorting had ever raced beyond a mile. A 4-year-old daughter of Bernardini owned by Stonestreet Stables, she completed the distance over a fast track in 1:40.14 and returned $10.40.  

“The jock did a great job,” said McLaughlin. “I was happy because she settled. She can get keen, but once she settled, I was happy. I just wanted her to wait and wait and get outside – that’s what she wants to do. So, he did a great job.”

Geroux was aboard Cavorting for the first time. He replaced Javier Castellano, who rode her to victory in the Grade 2 Ruffian earlier in the meet but kept his regular seat aboard Breeders’ Cup Distaff champion Stopchargingmaria in the Phipps.

“I’m real happy to win a prestigious race like the Phipps two years in a row,” said McLaughlin. “I’m just sorry Dinny wasn’t here with us. But it was a great win.”

McLaughlin said immediately after the race that he wished the Breeders’ Cup could be moved this year to New York, where the Distaff would be decided around one turn. The 2016 Breeders’ Cup will be held at Santa Anita.

“Her pedigree indicated she wanted to go further from the beginning, being she’s by Bernardini,” said McLaughlin. “At one turn, she’s great. We’ll probably have to try her around two turns now. We have plenty of time to find out if she’ll handle it before the Breeders’ Cup.”