Manhattan Stakes Entries: Motion's Highland Chief pipes the right tune

Trainer Graham Motion is going to try and upend the power of Chad Brown in the Manhattan on Saturday. Here is a preview of this important turf route!
Trainer Graham Motion is going to try and upend the power of Chad Brown in the Manhattan on Saturday. Here is a preview of this important turf route!

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Race 10: 1¼ (Turf) Manhattan S. (G1), $750k, 4+ (Saturday)

Before the Belmont racing Festival reaches its “Feature,” as is the custom on a “Super Saturday” in North American racing, a major Grade 1 turf distance contest takes the stage. The Manhattan S. has a lovely history, and is a mainstay on this Belmont card. It is like getting an extra present during the holidays. The 1¼ test forces jockeys to decide whether to “settle” their mounts early or go for the gusto and get loose on the lead. Will this make Chad Brown’s 8th win in 11 runs of the Manhattan S.? We shall see!

Now, let’s find out about this field…

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#1 L’Imperator (FR) (Jky: E. Cancel/Trn: C. Brown):

One of a quad … trainer Chad Brown always comes to this race with a strong hand. His record is really second-to-none over these past few years. His 1st entry is a 5-yr-old gelding by Holy Roman Emperor (IRE) that is part-owned by the powerful Madaket Stables. His recent form is not without plusses because his win in the Fort Marcy (G2) in early May was solid. That was a wire-to-wire victory, which is exceedingly hard to pull off in turf racing. A problem, to say the least ... The pace regularly goes to pieces, and anything can happen. I am not very impressed with Eric Cancel on the grass. Seems to be a tough ask …

Grade: B-

 

#2 Gufo (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: C. Clement):

The 5-yr-old son of Declaration of War continues to be well-backed at the windows because this is one of Christophe Clement’s best. Otter Bend Stables invested in a good one, and his deep routing ability (War Front in his background) is a major weapon. Joel Rosario’s task is to not let the frontrunners get too far away. Making a big run towards the top of the lane is the “key,” and Rosario is a top jock when it comes to exhibiting this kind of strategy. This will be a stiff test for the seasoned runner, but he deserves respect considering his lifetime record is 16/8-3-4. He has never missed the board … running at Belmont.

Grade: B+

 

#3 Tokyo Gold (FR) (Jky: C. Demuro/Trn: K. Satoshi):

If you do not know the names of Satoshi or Yoshida, then you need to work a little harder on your Japanese racing history. A strong stable is formed by this pair, and they ship to Belmont a runner that took part in the NYRA “Triple” Series in ‘21. The son of Kendargent (FR) was up against a pair of impressive European-trained turfers in Bolshoi Ballet (O’Brien) and Yibir (Appleby). No small task … Since then, he tried a Group 2 in Italy, and an even tougher race at Longchamp, which was his ’22 debut. I am not sure just how fit this entry is, but it is good to see Cristian Demuro come to the NYRA turf. A global traveler, you cannot discount his riding ability. Bet this one with caution … tough to figure.

Grade: B-

 

#4 Adhamo (IRE) (Jky: F. Prat/Trn: C. Brown):

This is one of Chad Brown’s strongest entries, and I would not be shocked whatsoever if this colt by Intello (GER) won. The 4-yr-old worked hard last time out in the Turf Classic (G1), but ended up 3rd to Brendan Walsh’s Santin #9. We know he is talented, and able to exhibit late gears when it matters the most. Going a bit longer should not be an issue, and the presence of Flavien Prat only makes the case that much stronger. Running in France last year against the likes of St Mark’s Basilica and Magny Cours certainly gave him a strong class foundation. Look out for this one …

Grade: A-

 

#5 In Love (BRZ) (Jky: A. Achard/Trn: P. Lobo):

Thinking back to last October, it is amazing to think that Paulo Lobo’s son of Agnes Gold (JPN) was victorious in the Keeneland Turf Mile (G1). Coming into the BC Mile (G1), many thought that he could duplicate that effort. It was a tough group to challenge, and ending up mid-pack was not all that negative. Lobo tried to get him ready to start his ’22 campaign at Keeneland in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1). However, longer shot Shirl’s Speight sprung the upset. What is difficult is trying to see how this miler is going to be able to get this distance. His dam side does speak to it, but there is a ton of work to do for jockey Alex Achard. He rides turf races as often as I do …

Grade: C+

 

#6 Rockemperor (IRE) (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: C. Brown):

The Chad Brown train is rolling with this one, who is also by Holy Roman Emperor (IRE). The last time he showed his face at Belmont, the Madaket/Dubb runner visited the winner’s circle with Javier Castellano aboard. Now, he comes back to the turf looking for a bit of redemption after 3 races that were nothing if mediocre. The Fort Marcy (G2), against his stablemate, was as poor a showing as Brown probably has ever had … 5th, 37-lengths back in the end. The switch to Irad Ortiz can be construed as welcome news. Maybe he can steer this one in the proper direction … we shall see …

Grade: C+

 

#7 Tribhuvan (FR) (Jky: M. Franco/Trn: C. Brown):

The parade of Brown runners has finally come to a conclusion … Another Madaket investment, it is difficult to gauge just how fit this runner is right now. He was 2nd last year in this race, collecting one of minors behind stablemate Domestic Spending. Ever since his win in the UN (G1) at Monmouth, he hasn’t measured up too well. Competing in the Sword Dancer (G1), BC Turf (G1), and in the ’22 edition of the Turf Classic (G1) is no easy task. His class rating is strong, but I am skeptical of rider Manny Franco. He doesn’t quite have the decision-making ability of a Prat or Ortiz. Possibly a player to use underneath at a price … but there are just too many to choose from in here.

Grade: C+

 

#8 Highland Chief (IRE) (Jky: T. McCarthy/Trn: G. Motion):

Jockey Trevor McCarthy enjoyed his first Grade 1 victory aboard this son of Gleneagles (IRE) in the Man 0’ War S. in mid-May. Trainer Graham Motion has known this rider for a long time, and they are pairing up once again. That win was special because not only was he 19/1, but it was against some powerful foes like Clement’s Gufo #2. I would like to think that this well-bred turfer could build on that effort, and enjoy continued success. This is going to be a true test, but his odds will be more than square. Motion had a strong spring at Keeneland, and continues his march, which will include Royal Ascot next week.

Grade: A-

 

#9 Santin (Jky: T. Gaffalione/Trn: B. Walsh):

The Godolphin homebred was my top pick in the Turf Classic (G1), and the colt by Distorted Humor did not disappoint for conditioner Brendan Walsh. He comes to Belmont for the 1st time, looking for more success. It is reasonable to think that he can take a step forward, but I would say that this is a tougher field. Walsh made some great strides down at the Fair Grounds, and that was transferred to Churchill. However, this is NYRA, and a much deeper pool. Tyler Gaffalione is a big game jockey, and it is great that he flies into ride. I want to use this one, but not on top.

Grade: B+

 

#10 Channel Maker (ON) (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: B. Mott):

Just when many pundits (including this one) thought that Bill Mott’s 8-yr-old by English Channel was getting a little long in the tooth … he wins impressively at Keeneland in the Grade 2 Elkhorn S. That was his 1st win in over a year. Regular rider Luis Saez is back for what constitutes a “cutback” race, after he has contested a number of contests at 1½ on the grass. I think this one has a chance to be double-digit odds come post time, and that will suit many who like him. Using him on several tickets seems imperative, especially considering the prowess of these connections.

Grade: B

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