Saturday, June 8: The Grade 1, $1 Million Manhattan Handicap
In search of a fifth win in the Grade 1, $1 million Manhattan, conditioner Chad Brown entered a quartet of accomplished runners to compete in the 147th running of one of the most prestigious turf races of the Belmont Park spring/summer meet and the prelude to the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 8.
Leading the charge of Brown's contingent is Klaravich Stables' multiple graded stakes winner Bricks and Mortar. Sired by Giant's Causeway, the 5-year-old has won his last four consecutive races including victories in three straight graded stakes to start his 2019 campaign: the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in January, the Grade 2 Muniz Memorial Handicap at Fair Grounds in March, and the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs in his last start.
||Raging Bull (FR)
||Catcho En Die (ARG)
||Robert Bruce (CHI)
||Bricks and Mortar
||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Bricks and Mortar has posted three breezes since his victory last out at Churchill, most recently working four furlongs in 49.98 seconds on the inner turf at Belmont, and Brown said the horse is in fine fettle heading into the Manhattan.
"He's doing really well," said Brown. "He's in great form."
With Irad Ortiz, Jr. named to ride, Bricks and Mortar will depart from post 8.
Looking to rebound from a fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy for Brown and owners Convento Viejo is 5-year-old Chilean-bred Robert Bruce.
Unbeaten in Chile where he made his first six career starts, Robert Bruce kicked off his 2018 campaign making his North American debut for Brown in winning the Grade 3 Fort Marcy before going on to capture the Grade 1 Arlington Million.
After ending his year with a seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Classic, Robert Bruce returned to start his year in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy on the inner turf course at Belmont listed as soft. Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, he bobbled at the start and finished fifth to stablemate and co-entrant Olympico.
"He had a disappointing first race back," said Brown. "He caught a soft course and the race didn't unfold the way we expected. He's fit and strong and hopefully he'll move forward.
Drawing post 3, Robert Bruce will be ridden by Jose Ortiz.
Owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Bethlehem Stables, 4-year-old French-bred Olympico received a 102 Beyer in his Fort Marcy victory, his first start in the United States.
Olympico will be ridden by Kendrick Carmouche and depart from post 7.
Rounding out Brown's quartet is French-bred Raging Bull for owner Peter Brant. The 4-year-old sired by Dark Angel has made each of his nine career starts in North America, notching five wins including a graded stakes victories last year in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar and the Grade 2 Hall of Fame and Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga Race Course.
Starting his year in the Grade 1 Makers Mile at Keeneland on April 12, he finished fourth and followed up with another fourth-place running in the Turf Classic at Churchill.
Raging Bull will leave from post 1 with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano aboard.
Leading the challenge to Brown's contingent is multiple graded stakes winner Channel Maker for owners Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R.A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing.
A 5-year-old gelding sired by Channel Maker, the multiple graded stakes winner with over $1.9 million in earnings for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott improved off a fourth-place finish the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream Park to win the Grade 1 Man o' War on May 11.
After breezing four furlongs in 49 seconds flat on the Belmont dirt training track on June 2 in his final major preparation for the race, Mott said he was pleased with how Channel Maker is doing heading into the race.
"He worked very well," said Mott. "We're very happy with him. It was a very nice breeze. He's ready for the Manhattan."
With Joel Rosario named to ride, Channel Maker will leave form post 10.
Graded stakes winner Qurbaan entered for Shadwell Stable and conditioner Kiaran McLaughlin.
A 6-year-old son of Speightstown, Qurbaan has yet to reach the winners circle this year but enters the Manhattan following a game second-place finish in the Turf Classic, beaten half a length by Bricks and Mortar.
Prepping for the race from the privately-owned Greentree Training Center in Saratoga; where he's breezed two times since the Turf Classic, McLaughlin said he is excited to run Qurbaan in the race.
"He's doing very well right now," said McLaughlin. "I'm excited for the race."
Also entered is Bandua (post 6, Tyler Gaffalione); Catcho En Die; (post 2, Luis Saez); Channel Cat (post 5, John Velazquez) and Epical (post 9, Tyler Baze).
The Manhattan is slated as Race 10 on Saturday's 13-race card. First post is 11:35 a.m.
Probable: Bricks and Mortar (Chad Brown), Channel Cat (Pletcher), Channel Maker (Bill Mott), Olympico (Chad Brown), Qurbaan (Kiaran McLaughlin), Raging Bull (Chad Brown), Robert Bruce (Chad Brown)
Qurbaan pointing for G1 Manhattan Stakes
Conditioner Kiaran McLaughlin reports that Shadwell Stable's graded stakes winner Qurbaan, who has finished no worse than third in his last six starts since winning the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch last summer at Saratoga will next be pointed to the Grade 1, $1 million Manhattan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day, Saturday, June 8 at Belmont Park.
After finishing second over good going in his most recent start in the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 4, McLaughlin is looking for Qurbaan to move forward from that race.
Qurbaan breezed five furlongs in 1:01.80 on Saturday on the all-weather track at Greentree Training Center in Saratoga, and McLaughlin said he exited the work in good order.
"He came out of the work well," said McLaughlin. "We probably will have to run against the same horses that beat us [in the Turf Classic], but maybe we'll get a little bit of a weight advantage. He's run on all different types of ground. He might prefer a little bit more on the firm side. He's a neat horse."
Catcho En Die makes return in G1 Manhattan
Following a nine-month hiatus, Grade 1-placed Catcho En Die will be making his comeback to the races in the Grade 1, $1 million Manhattan on Saturday.
Owned by trainer Naipaul Chatterpaul in partnership with Sotirios Sakatis, the 7-year-old gelded son of Catcher in the Rye was third via disqualification in the 2018 Grade 1 Arlington Million last out, which was won by fellow Manhattan aspirant Robert Bruce.
The August 11 effort was his last start, which came after a front-running victory in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes at the Chicago oval, where he earned a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure.
"He looks good and has been training well," Chatterpaul said. "I figured that I would give him some time off after the Million. He was just on the sidelines because the owners and I decided to give him a break. I don't go to Florida in the winter and I didn't want to go down there with just one horse."
In his native Argentina, Catcho En Die won his first three career starts, including the Group 1 Miguel Alfredo Martinez de Hoz in February 2016 at San Isidro. He came to the United States and made two starts for Hall of Famer Bill Mott before Chatterpaul claimed Catcho En Die for $40,000 at Aqueduct last April.
Catcho En Die will likely go off as a longshot in the Manhattan, but Chatterpaul is no stranger to upsets, having saddled 21-1 Mission Approved for a wire-to-wire score in the 2011 Manhattan.
"That horse was a straight front runner and wasn't as tactical as this one," Chatterpaul said. "He can basically do anything and that's what I like about him."
Jockey Luis Saez will be aboard Catcho En Die for his 2019 debut.
Channel Maker To Return In G1 Manhattan Stakes
Channel Maker, a 5-year-old son of English Channel owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Gary Barber, R.A. Hill Stable and Wachtel Stable, will make his next start in the Grade 1, $1 million Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day.
Bred in Ontario by the Tall Oaks Farm of Ivan Dalos, the talented chestnut boasts a record of 5-4-3 from 24 career starts with purse earnings in excess of $1.9 million. He broke through at the Grade 1 level in September at Belmont over soft going in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic while earning a career-best 108 Beyer Speed Figure, and doubled up at the top flight last out with a neck score over Arklow in the Man o' War, which garnered a 106 Beyer on firm footing.
Channel Maker breezed a half-mile in 49 flat on Sunday morning on the Belmont dirt training track.
"He worked very well. We're very happy with him. It was a very nice breeze. He's ready for the Manhattan," said Mott.
147th Running on Saturday, June 08, 2019
The MANHATTAN HANDICAP has been held on Belmont's main turf course at 1 ¼ miles since 1970. From its inaugural running in 1867 through 1896 it was run on at 1 ¼ miles on the dirt track at Jerome Park and Morris Park. It was not run in 1897 and 1898-1969 it was run at distances of six furlongs, seven furlongs, one mile, 1 ½ miles and 1 5/8 miles.
It was held at Jerome Park 1872-94, at Morris Park in 1895 and 1897-1904, and at Belmont Park since 1905 (other than 1959 and 1963-1967 when it was held at Aqueduct). It was always held in the fall until 1991 when it was moved to the Belmont Stakes weekend. From 1994 to the present it has been on the undercard of the Belmont Stakes.
The inaugural date in of the Manhattan Handicap is somewhat nebulous. Although a race identified as the Manhattan Handicap at 1 ¼ miles for all ages has been held since 1872, for some reason the New York Racing Association and the American Racing Manual only has its initial running at 1896. To further confuse the issue, early editions of the New York Times state that it has been held since 1867.
Although there was an identical race held at Jerome Park since 1867, it was not identified as the Manhattan Handicap until 1872. If 1867 is indeed considered its inaugural running, it would make the Manhattan Handicap the third oldest stakes in the country, after Keeneland's Phoenix and Saratoga's Travers.
What is not in dispute is the quality of outstanding horses who have won the event, including Preakness, Harold, Parole, Firenze, Los Angeles, Raceland, Henry of Navarre, Roseben, The Finn, Naturalist, Sarazen, Devil Diver, Stymie, High Gun. Round Table, Quicken Tree, Academy Award, Sky Classic, Paradise Creek, Awad, Better Talk Now, Dancing Forver, and Gio Ponti.
The change was made to run the race under allowance conditions, rather than as a handicap, for the 2014 edition.