The Phipps family has long been known for producing quality horses whose pedigrees have a lasting impact on the racing industry.
The enduring nature of one of the sport's most famed breeding programs showed itself again on Friday as the Phipps Stable homebred Point of Entry, a half brother to the multiple Grade I winning filly Pine Island, came up four wide in the stretch to capture the Grade II, $150,000 Elkhorn Stakes on the closing day of Keeneland's Spring Meeting.
Though Pine Island made her name on the dirt, winning the Grade I Alabama and Gazelle in 2006 before fatally breaking down in that year's Breeders' Cup Distaff, there just weren't as many main-track options for the 4-year-old Point of Entry and his stamina-laden style.
After making five of his first six career starts on the dirt, the son of Dynaformer switched to grass exclusively for his last five outings and won a 11/2-mile allowance test over the Keeneland surface on April 12.
"We liked him when he was young, but we knew he wasn't going to be early (developing)," said trainer Shug McGaughey, who also conditioned Pine Island. "You know Pine Island broke her maiden on the turf, and with his breeding I figured where I am going to get 11/2 miles on the dirt. I don't think he needs a 11/2 miles so I think we'll try some other spots. But I'm really pleased with his progression so far this spring."
Out of the Seeking the Gold mare Matlacha Pass, Point of Entry has only been off the board once in six tries on the turf, that coming when he finished fourth over a speed-favoring surface at Gulfstream on Feb. 26.
With 6-to-5 favorite Newsdad winging away through an opening half in :50.29 on the lead, jockey John Velazquez had Point of Entry more forwardly engaged, moving the 5-to-1 choice up into fourth while on the inside path down the backside.
"As soon as I passed the wire the first time I creeped up a little bit to them so they didn't get away from me," said Velazquez, who was elected into Racing's Hall of Fame earlier this week. "At the half-mile pole, he was right behind the other two horses and I was very confident from then on."
After working his way to the outside path going through the final turn, Point of Entry kicked clear and had a clear advantage in the lane, hitting the wire in 2:29.45 over a course rated firm.
Tahoe Lake was second with the Roger Attfield-trained Simmard third. Attfield's other entry in the race, the 10-year-old stalwart Musketier, finished fourth in his attempt to win a third consecutive edition of the Elkhorn.
"They both ran well," said Attfield, another of this week's Hall of Fame inductees. "Musketier had to take up a little bit because Simmard actually came out a bit."
McGaughey mentioned the Grade I Manhattan at Belmont Park on June 9 as Point of Entry's next possible start.
"I'm not going to be in a big hurry to run him back now after two mile-and-a-half races in three weeks," McGaughey said. "But we're looking forward to the summer with him."