The Man o’ War Racing Festival featured at Belmont Park on Saturday
By New York Hot List Staff
Saturday at Belmont Park, the Man o’ War Racing Festival card includes five stakes races in which there is a Grade 1, three Grade 3s, and the newly renamed Runhappy stakes. Combined, the races offer $1.55 million dollars of purse money and is anchored by the $700,000 Man o’ War (G1) on the turf.
The 11-race card kicks off with the $200,000 Vagrancy Handicap (G3) for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up to be run at 6 ½ furlongs. The Chad Brown trained Separationofpowers returns from having last finished fourth in the Cotillion (G1) in September. The 7-5 morning line favorite won the Test (G1) last summer at Saratoga.
“She came out of it with a chip in her ankle, so we had to do surgery,” Brown said. “This is her first race back, but she’s doing really well.”
The 3-year-old males are featured in the $300,000 Peter Pan (G3), which will be run as race 4 going nine-furlongs around one-turn on the big Belmont oval. Todd Pletcher’s Intrepid Heart is the 7-5 favorite and he is seeking to stay unbeaten in his third career start.
“Hopefully he continues improving,” Pletcher said. “Both of his first two races were very good. He seems to have the right kind of pedigree for stretching out. So far, so good.”
Race 7 will be the $200,000 Beaugay (G3) which is for older fillies and mares on the turf going a mile and a sixteenth. Chad Brown has the top two favorites with the 7-5 Competitionofideas and Homerique, who brings a very impressive European resume to her American debut at 9-5 odds.
The six-furlong $150,000 Runhappy for 4-year-olds and up will go off as race 9. Recruiting Ready is the 8-5 top choice based on his stellar record of 10: 5-1-2 at the race distance and his recent victory in the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) in March. In his last race for trainer Stanley Hough, he was fourth at Keeneland in the Commonwealth (G3) after less than ideal trip.
“He’s been doing great since the Commonwealth,” said Hough. “He came into some trouble in that race and had to check early, but we’re confident with how he’s been doing heading into this race. As he’s gotten older, he’s really matured and started to put things together. Earlier in his career, he had some problems and since then he’s been a very good horse.”
The $700,000 Man o’ War (G1) is the featured race 10 to be run at 11-furlongs on the turf. The field includes two European runners shipping to New York from the powerful barn of Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien and the 5-2 favorite Focus Group from Chad Brown.
The well-travelled Hunting Horn has made several trips to America already as O’Brien’s assistant T. J. Comerford explained, “He stays well. He takes to traveling well and he’s the type of horse, if he’s in good form, he’ll always turn up on the day and run well. He looks a million dollars right now.”
The 3-1 filly Magic Wand ran second against the boys in the Pegasus Turf Invitational (G1) in January.
“She ran very well at Gulfstream. She’s here in good order and Aidan thinks a lot of her,” said Comerford.
The Runhappy and the Man o’ War are the final two legs of this week’s Cross-Country Pick 5 which includes stakes races from Woodbine and Monmouth Park.
Leg A: Woodbine – Race 8, $100,000 Ballade (4:59 p.m)
Leg B: Belmont – Race 8, Maiden Special Weight (5:18 p.m.)
Leg C: Monmouth – Race 10, $75,000 Serena’s Song (Race 10, 5:25 p.m.)
Leg D: Belmont – Race 9, $150,000 Runhappy (5:40 p.m.)
Leg E: Belmont – Race 10, Grade 1, $700,000 Man o’ War (6:24 p.m.)