Bradley Thoroughbreds’ French import Desert Blanc (GB) will make his 2nd U.S. start on Saturday against some serious company in the G1 Manhattan Stakes. This 1 mile and 1/4 event will be the third time he has competed at this distance in his career. Both times he put in good efforts, breaking his maiden and finishing a troubled third beaten a length in the Prix du Prince d’Orange (G3). (watch the race below) So we know this distance will not be an issue.
Four of his competitors on Saturday have never attempted this distance and it will be a new challenge for them. Boisterous, a horse Desert Blanc met in his U.S debut, finished second by a length and seems to relish this distance but not the firm turf. He has only won one time over firm going in four tries. If the rain holds out I don’t think he will be as dangerous as he was in the (Grade 3) Fort Marcy Stakes. The unknown factor in here is Neil Drysdale’s Omayad (CHI), a Chilean import making his second U.S start. This horse seems to love the distance of a mile and a quarter but it is hard to tell how he will handle this jump in class. Todd Pletcher will saddle the favorite Hudson Steele, a horse that put in an impressive effort in the (Grade 2) Dixie Stakes at Pimlico winning by 2 1/2 lengths. I have heard handicappers and sports writers state this Manhattan field is “one of the worst in years”, yet not only do I find that hard to believe from looking at the past performances, I think this race will set up the American favorite for the (Grade 1) Breeders Cup Turf Race in November.
In addition to the focus on the G1 Manhattan at 5:37 pm, the racing world is waiting for 6:40 pm to see the third leg of the Triple Crown. It will be a great day for our co-owners as not only do they have a horse in a Grade 1 race on Belmont Day, the race will also be spotlighted on national television! Good luck to all of them! Now let’s discuss what is really important, the guaranteed $1,000,000 Pick Four at Belmont starting in race 8 tomorrow.
Race 8 (G1 Just A Game Stakes): Hungry Island (5-2) has been training well and although this group of seven fillies is very tough, I think she could upset the great Winter Memories.
Race 9 (G2 The Woody Stephens): Hierro (5-2) showed a lot of class winning the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs and although Trinniberg and Currency Swap look tough, I think Hierro’s connections have had their eye on this race for a long time. I also have to pull for him since I helped pick out his half sister by Steet Sense for owner Mary Sullivan and trainer Tom Bush.
Race 10 (G1 Manhattan Handicap): Desert Blanc (GB) (6-1) is training like a monster and trainer Chad Brown thinks we will see a great effort on the firm turf. Can’t root against your own horse anyway!
Race 11 (G1 Belmont Stakes): Street Life (12-1) will be my long shot pick after the deflection of I’ll Have Another. Besides my selfish desire to hit the Chad Brown late daily double with Desert Blanc and Street Life, this horse really does seem to be begging for more ground. In every race he has been closing like a freight train as he did in his maiden score impressively earning the “TDN Rising Star” title (see video below). We already know he loves the “big sandy” (Belmont track) when he ran an excellent third in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes. Union Rags has also been training extraordinarily well up to this race. Paynter also looks threatening as his last two Beyer speed figures have been 100 and 106. Connections think he is better than the impressive Bodemeister. I think I speak for the entire racing nation when I say I am very sorry about I’ll Have Another scratching. It would have been fun to watch him try and make history.