June 23, 2024

Manhattan draws evenly matched field of 10; Brown power trio top Just a Game

Santin ridden by Tyler Gaffalione wins the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs (Photo by Horsephotos.com)

Manhattan S. (G1) — Race 10 (5:38 p.m. ET)

Chad Brown unsurprisingly has the numbers in the two Grade 1 turf stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday, but in the case of the $750,000 Manhattan S. (G1), the talent appears more evenly distributed.

Santin is the most lightly raced of the 10 horses in the Manhattan, which will be run over 1 1/4 miles. The Godolphin homebred responded to the addition of blinkers last time, scoring by a neck in the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.

“He had worked in blinkers at the Fair Grounds before his races there and I was always focused on waiting for the Turf Classic to be the first time we would use them. He’s very laid back and they just help him concentrate a little more,” trainer Brendan Walsh said.

Multiple Grade 1 winner Gufo, the 3-1 morning line favorite, will look to improve on his third-place finish in last year’s Manhattan. The Christophe Clement trainee captured the Pan American (G2) in his season debut April 2, but was undone in part by a slow pace in last month’s Man o’ War (G1) and finished second to 19-1 chance Highland Chief.

Channel Maker, the 2020 champion turf male, enters off his first victory in more than a year and a half, a 1 1/4-length decision in the April 23 Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland. His last attempt over 10 furlongs was in the 2020 Manhattan, where he finished fourth by one length.

The Brown contingent is notable for its relative inconsistency. L’Imperator set pedestrian fractions en route to a victory in last month’s Fort Marcy (G2), but hasn’t won two in a row since his days in France. Tribhuvan, who won the Fort Marcy and finished second in the Manhattan last season, has finished up poorly in three attempts since his victory in the United Nations (G1) last July.

Also representing the Brown stable are Grade 1 veteran Rockemperor and Group 3 winner Adhamo, who finished third to Santin at Churchill when last seen.

The field is rounded out by 2021 Keeneland Turf Mile (G1) victor In Love and European invader Tokyo Gold, runner-up in last year’s course-and-distance Belmont Derby (G1) in one of his two prior U.S. attempts.

Just a Game S. (G1) — Race 4 (1:08 p.m. ET)

In contrast to the Manhattan, Brown has the $500,000 Just a Game S. (G1) well surrounded with a trio of Peter Brant-owned fillies and mares. The largely intramural battle includes Regal Glory, victorious in the Jenny Wiley (G1), Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G3), and Matriarch (G1) in her last three.

Lining up against that one are Speak of the Devil, an impressive scorer of the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) in her U.S. debut over In Italian, who had previously captured the Honey Fox (G3).

The field is rounded out by the Bill Mott-trained Wakanaka, who has finished behind all three Brown runners this year, and California shipper Leggs Galore, the likely pacesetter in the one-mile test.

Jaipur S. (G1) — Race 8 (3:53 p.m. ET)

The $400,000 Jaipur S. (G1), a six-furlong dash on the Widener turf, is an outlier of sorts on the Belmont Stakes Day card as it attracted a near capacity field of 13. Casa Creed, the 2021 Jaipur winner, is back to defend his title following an excursion to the Middle East over the winter, while the Wesley Ward-trained Arrest Me Red looks to notch his sixth career stakes win from 10 starts.

The 5-2 morning line favorite, Arrest Me Red’s prior black-type wins include the Belmont Turf Sprint (G3) and Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship last fall, and the May 6 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G2).

The Jaipur winner will receive an automatic bid to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Keeneland in November.