10/17/2005 11:00PM

Other Phipps filly will test Ashado


LAS VEGAS - If Ashado was the same filly who won last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff, then the other fillies and mares would be running for second this year. Ashado has looked like her old brilliant self on occasion this season, but there have been some real clunkers as well, giving hope to some other horses in what appears to be a wide-open Distaff.

A healthy Smuggler, winner of the Mother Goose Stakes and Coaching Club American Oaks, would have been the likely entrant from Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps and trainer Shug McGaughey, but Smuggler was taken out of training shortly before the Alabama because of a fever. Although there is much to look forward to next year, when she is a 4-year-old, Smuggler may not race again this year. McGaughey has another Phipps filly, however, who could be the sleeper in this year's Distaff.

Pleasant Home finished second to Pampered Princess in the Spinster Stakes on Oct. 9, a performance that was better than it looked. Over a Keeneland surface that is always conducive to speed, the late-running Pleasant Home broke from the rail and was not going to catch Pampered Princess, but with more speed signed on for the Breeders' Cup Distaff and over a Belmont Park surface with which she is familiar, Pleasant Home will be a longshot with a realistic chance.

Pleasant Home is by Seeking the Gold, who has sired some high quality colts, such as Dubai Millennium, but is unquestionably a superior sire of fillies. Pleasant Home is a full sister to stakes winner Country Hideaway, who was best at between seven furlongs and 1 1/16 miles despite a pedigree full of stamina influences.

Among stablemates of equal pedigree power, Pleasant Home's story is noteworthy. She is out of Our Country Place, an unraced mare who was bought privately by the Phipps family just before she was to be sold at the 1993 Saratoga yearling sale.

There have always been three major components why the Phipps dynasty has endured since the 1930's. First, the acquisition of key broodmares from the 1946 dispersal of Col. E.R. Bradley that were direct descendants of La Troienne. The Bradley mares, along with Grey Flight and Lady Be Good, became foundation mares, yielding daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters that produced stakes winners over the next six decades.

Second was the selection of mating these priceless mares to the best stallions of the day. In the 1950's, that meant primarily Nasrullah, Princequillo, and Double Jay. Their homebred Bold Ruler wrote a magical chapter during the 1960's. Also used often during that decade was Round Table, as well as selected matings to Tom Fool, Swaps, Ribot, Gallant Man, Tom Rolfe, Hail to Reason, and Bagdad. Crossing Tom Fool to Busanda - who was a daughter of Businesslike, one of the mares in the Bradley dispersal - resulted in Buckpasser, who created yet another significant chapter for the Phippses in the 1970's. Buckpasser had champion daughters Numbered Account (the dam of Private Account) and Relaxing (the dam of Easy Goer), and other daughters that became prominent broodmares, such as Con Game (the dam of Seeking the Gold).

A third ingredient to the Phipps success was the private purchases of broodmares from exceptional female families. Selected private purchases every few years infused new blood to their existing band of priceless broodmares. The most important acquisitions were Dorine, a champion in South America, and Lady Pitt, a champion in this country at age 3.

First bred to Bold Ruler, Dorine produced stakes winner Our Hero. Dorine's daughter by Hoist the Flag, Grecian Banner, produced undefeated champion Personal Ensign.

Bred to Riva Ridge, Lady Pitt produced stakes winner Blitey, who became one of the Phippses' greatest broodmares. Her offspring include Dancing Spree, Dancing All Night, Fantastic Find, and unraced Oh What a Dance, the dam of Heavenly Prize.

Our Country Place was selected because of her extraordinary female family, as well. A half-sister to champion Sky Beauty, Our Country Place is out of multiple stakes winner Maplejinsky, a half-sister to European champion Dayjur. Maplejinsky's dam is champion sprinter Gold Beauty.

Pleasant Home looked like Silky Sullivan winning the Bed o' Roses Handicap at a mile April 23 at Belmont, rallying from more than 15 lengths back. The nine furlongs of the Distaff suits her even better. Unlike her sister Country Hideaway, Pleasant Home appears to resemble her damsire, Pleasant Colony, who won the Derby, Preakness, and Wood Memorial in 1981.

Sweet Symphony another threat

With Smuggler and the majority of top 3-year-old fillies on the sidelines, Sweet Symphony emerged as the leading 3-year-old filly after an authoritative victory in the Alabama Stakes. She was lackluster facing older fillies and mares for the first time in the Beldame, but she can be excused for one race and it only makes her a better price in the Distaff.

By A.P. Indy, Sweet Symphony is out of the Distinctive Pro mare Brandy Rose, who is a half-sister to Horse of the Year Holy Bull. Although Distinctive Pro is purely a speed influence, Sweet Symphony's running style clearly suggests she is more influenced by the stamina from A.P. Indy.

If Ashado does not fire, Sweet Symphony and Pleasant Home have the talent to win the Distaff.