06/14/2006 11:00PM

Take D' Tour faces tougher in Phipps

Email

ELMONT, N.Y. - Calder shipper Take D' Tour ran a solid field of fillies and mares off their feet when she went gate to wire to win the Grade 2 Shuvee Handicap last month at Belmont Park.

After returning home, Take D' Tour is back at Belmont, where she will meet an even better group in Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 . In addition to the Shuvee runner-up, Balletto, Take D' Tour meets Grade 1 winners Spun Sugar, In the Gold, and the very solid Nothing But Fun in the 1 1/16-mile race.

The Ogden Phipps is the first leg of the NTRA's National Pick 4 wager with a guaranteed pool of $400,000. The wager includes the Fleur de Lis and Stephen Foster from Churchill Downs and the Californian from Hollywood Park. All four races will be broadcast live on ESPN during a two-hour telecast beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern.

Spun Sugar, who placed or showed in three Grade 1 races last year, is 2 for 2 this year, including a very game victory over Happy Ticket in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom in April. After dueling with Star Parade down the backside, Spun Sugar looked to be at the mercy of Happy Ticket in the stretch. But Spun Sugar fought back and got the victory by a neck.

"She was dead game," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "She kind of got to the lead. We weren't sure she'd be on the lead. When it worked out she was there, she got into a lengthy stretch duel with a filly who had a little more seasoning."

Spun Sugar, the 120-pound highweight under John Velazquez, probably will not be on the lead in the Phipps.

Take D' Tour, who is 5 for 5 in one-turn mile races, is the primary speed of the race. Her

trainer, David Fawkes, doesn't fear that the extra sixteenth of a mile will be a problem for

Take D' Tour. But with Bending Strings likely to press from the inside, and Nothing But Fun sitting just off of them from the outside, Take D' Tour will be severely tested Saturday.

Nothing But Fun is 5 for 6 and has been pointed to this race by her trainer, Mike Hushion, since the beginning of the year. She is 3 for 4 at Belmont.

Trainer Tom Albertrani was thinking of skipping this race with Balletto to point for the Go for Wand at Saratoga. But because there is ample speed in the field, Albertrani decided to run.

"The race might set up for her," he said.

In the Gold won the Grade 1 Gazelle over this track last fall, but has gone 0 for 5 since.