Top Turf Horses Do Battle In Manhattan Saturday

The Manhattan (Grade 1)- $1,000.000 Purse
BEL- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Quarter on the Inner Turf
June 9, 2018

We have reached the biggest racing weekend here at BEL, as the final jewel of the triple crown will be decided. However, the races that lead up to it are just as special. Here we look at The Manhattan, a ten furlong race on the inner turf which surely brings out the best every year. Two years ago, I remember covering this race when Bombastic Kathology jumped out to the lead at odds of 23/1, and left everyone in his dust as he wired the rest of the field. That was one of the most memorable races I have covered because you just had the feeling that the others in the field were not worried about him holding onto the lead, and they let him get away. Making it extra enjoyable was the fact that it was not one of our super-trainers who were on the winning end of that. In 2018, will we have that kind of result again, or will Mb Stables pick up his 4th win in the stake? He won last year with Spanish Showboat. Plenty of other top trainers ready to get a win here as well. It’s a field of twelve, here they are!

#1- Major Weiner (Night Rider Stables, ridden by R Maragh)- Starting on the rail, Major Weiner looks for his first win since his big day in October when he won the Pattison at WO. At that point in his career, he was on great form, so it is a little surprising that he has not been back to the winners circle. He was a non-factor in the BC Turf, and his best results have been a pair of third, one coming in the Woodturf Turf Classic last month, but even there he was four lengths up. Time for him to step up again.

#2- The Joker (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by E Maldonado)- Maxmillion has done a fantastic job with this, and The Joker can certainly be yet another example on how this trainer can really detect top turf talents. He was doing fine before purchased from Night Rider for $75.000, but Maxmillion took his career to a whole new level, making him a graded stakes champion by winning the Grade 2 Munoz at the end of March. That remains the last time he has hit the track, so he will be ready to roll here.

#3- Suspicious Native (Wil Mac Racing, ridden by M E Smith)– This colt has spent his last four races running at the free tracks. He won all of them, which were interestingly all on soft or yiedling turf. He has an impressive stat of five wins in six races on off tracks, but at lower levels. Weather is trending towards fast/firm this weekend. Suspicious Native has never tried anything close to the race he attempts here, so in seeing the trainer make this leap of faith, you have to think there is good reason for it. Tough to pick him against what he is facing here, but if he does win, score one for the free tracks!

#4- Controlled Power (Spankys Barn, ridden by C S Nakatani)- So far this year, Controlled Power has done everything right, just about. He has three wins in four starts so far, and those have been top flight victories, including the Kilroe Mile, a race in which he showed that he could defeat Clockwork Chai, as well as the Makers Mark Mile. He’s had plenty of success going longer as well, so don’t think his success is limited to mile long races. His last start saw him run second in the 11-furlong Man O War. That time, Clockwork Chai got him.

#5- Decibel (Threshold, ridden by J L Ortiz)- Ran second last month at the Woodford Turf Classic on soft turf, beaten only by Banshee Star. Another one of the best races of his career came here last year, where he narrowly missed the headbob at the wire to Clockwork Chai in the $1,200.000 in the BEL Derby. Excluding his debut race, and the BC Turf, Decibel has hit the board in every race of his career, and that is interesting in a race like this as he is not the first horse to stand out at you in this field, but he always is near the front at the end. Watch the odds on this one, and if they climb, take a shot.

#6- Levitical Order (Nakamura Stables, ridden by J K Court)- This gelding by Law And Order also does a good job finishing near the front, as evidenced by eight second place runs in nineteen starts. Three of them have come in his last three races, which includes the Grade 2 Elkhorn. Levitical Order does have three victories as well, and the biggest triumph came late last year in the $150.000 Schiller. Lately, he has been going back and forth between optional claimers and stakes, and this will be the toughest race of his career.

#7- Taniwha (Aml Racing, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- The trainer has done a great job with this one, making sure he does not fall 19 lengths out after six furlongs, and keeping him closer to the front. All three of his races with Aml Racing since the purchase from Yahudi have resulted in wins, and a big reason for that seems to be keeping him midpack early in the race. Now, with the powerful stretch drive that he has, he doesn’t have to make up a bunch of ground to get a win. This will be his first race since winning the Grade 2 Pan American on the last day of March. This is the one that I feel is the biggest threat to Clockwork Chai, and I would not be surprised to be recapping a victory of his.

#8- Clockwork Chai (Mb Stables, ridden by L H Colon)- The beast of the division will be running in the Manhattan as well, so we should this opportunity to see one of the greats run. In eighteen races, he has won fourteen. A loss to Controlled Power at the Kilroe Mile is the only blemish on the recent form of the reigning BC Turf Champion. When Clockwork Chai has raced over a mile, he has won all but one of those races. The won he didn’t is one that Taniwha will remember, as it was the Hirsch Turf Classic. He is the one to beat, but he can be beaten. Most likely, he will be heavily bet as a favorite, so perhaps look for those who can be the one to knock him off. Still, have to make him my pick, it’d be foolish not to.

#9- Banshee Star (Joseph Racing, ridden by A A Gallardo)- He was here at this time last year as well, running in the BEL. It didn’t go well that day, but he continued to run in top notch graded stakes in New York, including the Dandy and the Travers. Later, he’d run in the BC Dirt Mile, but he was just never really getting the results. Joseph Racing needed to do something, and he tried him out on the grass late last year. The first try, a SA allowance, was successful, and later he was winning the Grade 3 TAM Stakes. Now, he returns to BEL on better form then he was last year, having won the Woodford, beating several he sees here again, such as Decibel and Major Weiner. Banshee Star is a threat here, and very capable of winning.

#10- Devilish Luck (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- The amazing F Pennington will be aboard this lightly raced gelding. D J C Racing Stables picked him up in a $25.000 claiming race, away from Mb Stables, who had settled on running him short on the grass. He wanted to do something a little different, and ran him long at AQU, and on the main track as well, in the $75.000 Stud Muffin. He’d win the race, but still D J C changed it up again, and put him on the grass for the Grade 3 Fort Mercy, which had a loaded field. He closed well to be fifth there. He’s trending in the right direction, and it’d be an interesting story if he beat Clockwork Chai.

#11- Rookaholic (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by R J Albarado)- Finishing eleven lengths out in the Grade 1 Woodford last month has not deterred the trainer from entering him here, and that is a noteworthy vote of confidence. It was the first time he ran on an off track, so perhaps he just did not like the soft turf that day. He’s ran in several graded stakes, and while he has a couple good runs, he still just has the two wins to his credit, one a maiden, and the second a smaller allowance at LAD. In a field like this, he is tough to pick.

#12- Lunar Blaze (John Henry, ridden by R Bejarano)- At long last, Lunar Blaze was finally able to get to the winners circle for John Henry. There were many good and close finishes during his winless streak, and perhaps while the trainer was happy for those, it made the stretch all the more frustrating. The Grade 3 American Stakes at SA was the race, coming in mid-April and avoiding the elite horses of the division. Now, he returns to a race that he ran in last year as well (finishing 7th), in hopes that the SA victory serves as the confidence builder he needed. Lunar Blaze never stopped being a great horse, now we’ll see if he can build on that result.

Prediction: 8-7-4-9

— NS



Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES

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