Updated on 09/16/2011 8:39AM

Raging Fever aces experiment

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
After sitting off the pace early, Raging Fever pulls away to win Saturday's Grade 1 Ogden Phipps.

ELMONT, N.Y. - With an outside post position and the speed horses inside of him, jockey John Velazquez thought Saturday's $300,000, Grade 1 was the right time to experiment with Raging Fever's running style.

Everything worked out as well as Velazquez could have hoped as Raging Fever, after sitting third for the opening five furlongs, took command turning for home and held off the late-running Transcendental to win the Phipps Handicap by three-quarters of a length before 7,898 at Belmont Park. It was 1 3/4 lengths back to Two Item Limit in third.

Too Scarlet, Happily Unbridled, Critical Eye, Mystic Lady, Hopes Expectation, and Shiny Band completed the order of finish.

Raging Fever, a 4-year-old daughter of Storm Cat, won her third Grade 1 stakes and her ninth stakes overall, and is now 10-3-1 from 15 career starts. The $180,000 first-place prize pushed her career earnings to $1,176,365.

"She's a quality filly, she's been underrated most of her life it seems," said Mark Hennig, who trains Raging Fever for owner-breeder Edward Evans. "It's good to see her go over a million dollars, good to see her win another Grade 1 at a mile and a sixteenth. Nobody thinks she can run a distance, but she's won two Grade 1's going a mile and a sixteenth."

Velazquez figured Raging Fever's best chance to get the distance was to keep her off the early pace. Though Raging Fever broke on top, Velazquez was able to rein her into third, about 1 1/2 lengths behind dueling leaders Happily Unbridled and Shiny Band, who set opening fractions of 23.70 seconds and 46.20. Velazquez let Raging Fever take him to the leaders leaving the five-sixteenths pole and only had to hit her three times in the stretch. Raging Fever covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.75 over a fast track and returned $6 as the 2-1 favorite.

"I told Mark I'm all the way out there, I'm going to try and keep her out there to see if she'll let me rate her," said Velazquez, who rode four winners on the card. "If she rates it'll be perfect, so I stayed out there and she let me do whatever I wanted to do with her. Then on the turn I dropped in and got next to the horses and when I called on her she responded."

Hennig said he would freshen Raging Fever and point her to the Grade 1 Ballerina on Aug. 25 at Saratoga.

* Trainer Todd Pletcher recorded a training triple Saturday, saddling Smooth Jazz ($17.80), Finality ($4.30), and Reina Blanca ($3.60) to win races five, six, and seven. Pletcher now has 19 wins, tying Richard Dutrow Jr. for the meet lead.