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All eyes will be on Belmont Park this weekend, with the historic race track running five stakes races on their Saturday card. The Man o’ War Stakes (G1) serves as the main event of the day, featuring a nice field of 8 solid turf runners. The event will go off as race 10 on the card, with post time coming at 5:12 PM ET.
Headlining the field will be Gufo, who is set to make his 4-year-old debut for trainer Christophe Clement. Last year, the horse was able to capture three stakes victories, including the Belmont Derby (G1) over this race course. He closed out his year at Del Mar, where he finished third in the Hollywood Derby (G1) against a tough field, which included recent winner Domestic Spending. Gufo will break from post 8 for his seasonal debut, with Joel Rosario up for the ride.
New York turf racing always centers around Chad Brown, who has Sovereign entered into this race. The Irish bred horse will be making his American debut in this spot, after his 2020 campaign saw him go winless, but he was running in some of the top races in the world. Irad Ortiz Jr. will have the mount, breaking from the rail for today’s contest.
The consistent Channel Cat brings class to the race, while also loving to run this distance. He had a nice tune up last time out, finishing second in the Elkhorn Stakes (G2) at Keeneland, which means he should be well prepared for this start. John Velazquez will have the mount this time around, with the horse breaking from post 5.
The full field from the rail out includes: Sovereign, Moon Over Miami, Ziyad, So High, Channel Cat, Shamrocket, Field Pass, and Gufo.
#1 Sovereign – He will make his United States debut for trainer Chad Brown after running all of his races in Europe thus far for Aidan O’Brien. The horse went winless in 2021; however, he competed against some of the best horses in the world in those races. He was competitive in most of those spots as well, which tells me he could show up and outclass the competition in this spot. You have to have confidence that Chad Brown will get the most out of him, while it’s a great sign that Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride the horse in this start. He’s the one they all have to beat here.
#8 Gufo – It’s extremely exciting to see this horse back and ready to make his 4-year-old debut in this spot. Gufo lost only twice last year, with both defeats coming to Domestic Spending, who might end up being the best turf horse in the country this year when it’s all said and done. In all of his other starts, he left no doubt, looking sharp in victory in tough races such as the Belmont Derby (G1). I expect this horse to come back in full force this year.
#7 Field Pass – Based on the early pace figures, there is a good chance this horse could get loose on the lead, which will make him interesting. He comes out of one-mile races where he sat in a stalking position, so with that kind of early speed, he should be on the lead in this long distance affair. New York turf races are often fairly pace-less up front, so it gives him a good shot here. His trainer is also very good in long distance races.
#2 Moon Over Miami – This has been a consistent runner so far this season, finishing third in the Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2) and second in the Pan American Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park. This is the logic next step out of those races, especially after showing a good account of himself in both starts. He’ll need some pace to close into in this spot, which is a worry, but he has proven that he can come with a strong closing finish.
#5 Channel Cat – There is no doubt this runner is one of the classiest horses in the race. It seems like he has been running in these types of spots for years, while he also seems to show up in every big turf race in New York during the spring and summer months. He may not have what it takes to win in this spot, but there is no doubt he is always a hit the board candidate.
#3 Ziyad – We haven’t seen this horse in nearly 6 months, which is a question mark, but his best effort is good enough to win this race. He’s finished third in all three of his American starts; however, he was narrowly defeated in each of those races. He also is the other horse in the race that can show early speed, which means he could get the right trip to take this field a long ways on the front end.
#6 Shamrocket – This horse has a very nice resume coming into the race; however, this is a major step up in class for him today. He’ll need to run his best race ever to compete with this tough group of horses.
#4 So High – We haven’t seen a race out of this horse that says he can compete with this group today. We’ll need to see something special for him to have any chance to make an impact.
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