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Trainer Chad Brown will look to further bolster his impressive turf resume on Saturday at Belmont Park when he sends out three horses in the Grade 1, $1 million Woodford Reserve Manhattan, a race he will attempt to win for the fourth consecutive year and fifth in the past six.
The Manhattan, run at 1 1/4 miles on the inner turf course at Belmont, will maintain its customary position as the prelude to the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets and will be part of an NBC telecast that starts at 5 p.m. ET.
#4 Time Test – This horse has many positives, and his loss last time out makes him sneaky here. Juddmonte Farm sent him to Chad Brown to run on a firm turf course, and he wasn’t able to get that chance in his last race over a good turf course. However, there’s no rain in the forecast for Saturday, so we will get to see what he’s really made of in this spot. He ran tenth in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile in his only other U.S. start, but that was ALSO over turf rated good. In Chad I Trust, and I think that he will indeed make it four Manhattan wins in a row.
#3 World Approval – Last time out, he put in a “WOW” performance to win the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico on Preakness Stakes day. That win made him two-for-two on the year. When at his best, he can be a monster. He finished third in this race last year behind two serious turf horses, Flintshire and Ironicus. He’s the most likely winner and the deserving favorite, but the Chad Brown-trained Time Test is just too intriguing.
#7 Divisidero – I never seem to get this horse right. He beats me nearly every time. Last time out at Churchill Downs, he was amazing in winning the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, which I definitely didn’t see it coming. When at his best, he can beat anyone in this division, but he’s inconsistent. Put him on your tickets, but don’t put him on top in this spot.
#1 Beach Patrol – He’ll be the major pace presence, and that early speed could go a long way in a race that does have a lot of speed-balls entered. He’s racked up four straight second-place finishes coming into this one. He stretches out to a mile and 1/2, but he was able to win at this distance in the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington Park when sitting just off the pace. Don’t expect that today, but it’s nice to know that he can do it. Plus, of course, he has Chad Brown on his side.
#9 Sadler’s Joy – After breaking his maiden at Saratoga last summer as a 3-year old, he’s won three of his past five, including the Grade 2 Pan American at Gulfstream Park. His best efforts have come at slightly longer distances, but he could still prove tough at this distance. He was a decent third in the Grade 1 Man o’ War last time out, which is a positive sign, but that track was a mess, so it’s hard to compare that effort to what he’ll face here.
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#2 Wake Forest – My old friend… He always seems to disappoint me, even though I’ve cashed on him a couple of times. I don’t hold his Man o’ War effort against him because the track was extremely poor. However, I just don’t think he’s good enough to beat some of the monsters that are entered here. He’ll come with a run at the end, but it won’t be enough.
#6 Potemkin – This German-bred invader’s resume features a Group-1 win in Italy and Group-2 win in France at this distance to end 2016, but he’s coming off of a seventh-place finish in his 2017 debut. With any of these shippers from overseas, it’s hard to really know how they’ll handle the conditions in the United States. The back class is there, so that’s good news. I don’t like 8-1, but if the odds start to float up, he might be worth a play at a price.
#5 Ascend – He enters this one on a two-race winning streak, so that’s the good news. The bad news is that this is a MAJOR class jump. This horse has never ever run in a graded stakes of any kind. He might outrun his odds, but don’t play him.
#8 Applicator – This is an extremely tough spot for a horse who’s just 2-for-25 lifetime and has never been close in a race of this magnitude. He needs a softer spot.
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