The Man O War Is the Biggest Race of the Weekend

The Man O War (Grade 1)- $700.000 Purse
BEL- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and Three Eighths on the Inner Turf
May 14, 2022

Just because it is the week between the KYD and the PRK doesn’t mean we can’t have very big races this weekend! Center stage will go to the turf stars for now, and the excitement will be at BEL as the 20th running of the Grade 1 Man O War goes to post. The past winners list of this race is simply amazing. You would expect that, but still it is an impressive collection of virtual horses that anyone would love to emulate. The great Dogma won the race in back to back years, in 2006 and 2007, and is the only horse to win this race more than once. Bronze Sabre was the winner in 2011, and three years later the best horse in the game that never won a BC race, Spanish Showboat, took the hardware here. In 2018, it was Clockwork Chai, a horse that won 15 of 21 career starts. Last year, John Henry’s Winter Solstice earned the victory, a horse with close to $3,000.000 in career earnings that is still active. Our field is strong, but none of these quite have the “legend of the game” label on them yet. But, there’s still plenty of the time to get there. We have eight in the gate, let’s meet them!

#1- French Style (Royalty Stables, ridden by A Cedillo)- Showed promise as a three year old by running third in the SAR Derby, and then winning the Grade 2 HOL Turf Cup a few months later. That would be the last time he ran for prior trainer, Maxmillion Farm, though, as he would be sold in early January to Royalty Stables for $225.000. With his new trainer, French Style has made three starts and they are highlighted by running second in the Grade 2 Pan American last month. This is the first time since the SAR Derby that he has run for a real high purse so it is good to see him get this chance.

#2- Devil Made Me Doit (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by E Jaramillo)- The only horse in the field that won more than $1,000.000 in his career, and he is approaching $2,000.000, something that he could reach with a win. His last win came on this race track last July, coming in the Grade 1 BEL Derby, and though he has not won again he has continued to run very well. He would go on to finish third in the BC Turf, and is coming off of a second place finish in the Grade 2 Elkhorn. Familiar scenery here at BEL could be what it takes for him to get back in the winners circle and he will look for some revenge on Two In The Chamber, who beat him in the Elkhorn.

#3- Rotarian (Mb Stables, ridden by J S Rocco Jr)- While this horse did run in the Queens Plate last year, he has not been seen at the stake level at all in 2022. His three starts have all been in allowances, including for just a $27.000 purse at TAM. Mb Stables has looked to change things up, and would debut Rotarian on the grass in his last race, and it would end up being soft turf. He won the allowance, and has seemed to handle off tracks very well. There is a 43% chance of rain right now for the race, but I am thinking that we will be okay.

#4- Immookielee (Smokey Stover, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- Congratulations to Smokey Stover on following up his KYO victory by winning the KYD the very next day with Gigabyte. But there is no time for resting and sitting back after big wins, and the trainer is ready to grab the biggest purse of this weekend as well. Immookielee has won three of his last four, highlighted by the Muniz Memorial Handicap, a Grade 2 at FG, in his last start. Going back to last year, he was second here for the JC Derby. The hottest horse in the field being saddled by a red hot trainer? Seems like a very good thing.

#5- Cossack (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by Ru Gonzalez)- Last month in the Elkhorn, Maxmillion picked up the second and third place purse monies, and it was Cossack who ran third. In the race, he set the pace and actually opened up a little bit before being caught by his stablemate and the one starting to his outside here. Doesn’t have the resume of Devil Made Doit, though, and is still looking for his first stake win. I’m not so sure that Cossack will be quick out of the gate here, though.

#6- Two In The Chamber (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by J R Velazquez)- We could have a tactical chess battle here between Maxmillion and TwinTowersRacing. Two In The Chamber comes out of the Elkhorn as well and he would win the race. To do so, he came from well off the pace that was set by Cossack, as well as Devil Made Doit, who was second early in that race. Two In The Chamber was way back and stormed back to win. But Maxmillion will have two in the chamber in the race, and knows what Two In The Chamber did to his pair last time. Two In The Chamber does not have to run with that style, either, so interesting decisions will be made here.

#7- Crimson Rioja (Mo Mentum Farm, ridden by J Bravo)- Started off his four year old season by winning a starter allowance, but his three races that followed have not been anything exciting. So with that, Crimson Rioja is going back to the grass, something he was routinely running on during the second half of 2021. He won two of those races, highlighted by topping three others in the KD Preview Dueling Grounds Derby (is that the longest stake name in the game?) It seems like everything will have to work out perfectly for the trainer to have a rich strike in the Man O War, but you never know.

#8- King Que Niagra (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by M Franco)- Finally, we come to the only horse in the field that is not four years of age, and thus, King Que Niagra has made more starts than anyone here. In 26 starts, he’s won five times and has recently not been able to have any sustained success. You think he is about to, and then he goes a few races where he is no where no where near the front. He has it in him, and perhaps he is due to fire off one of those grade starts again. In January, he was great in winning the Grade 2 San Marcos, but never built on that.

Prediction: 4-2-1-6

— NS

Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES

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