Boisterous Seeks First Grade 1 Win in Man o’ War
By Jon Forbes | 07/10/2013 04:06 PM ET
One year after winning the Grade 1, $600,000 Man o’ War at Belmont Park with Point of Entry, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and owner Phipps Stable will send out Boisterous in the 2013 edition of the 1 3/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up.
The 2012 Man o’ War was the first Grade 1 win for Point of Entry, who subsequently added Grade 1 scores in the Sword Dancer Invitational, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, and Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap. On Saturday, Boisterous will attempt to emulate his stablemate and pick up his first Grade 1 victory in this year’s Man o’ War, the final graded stakes of the Belmont spring/summer meet before racing moves to Saratoga Race Course on July 19.
Point of Entry originally was scheduled to defend his title in the Man o’ War but emerged from the Woodford Reserve Manhattan on Belmont Stakes day with a non-displaced condylar fracture. Boisterous, who in his last Grade 1 appearance was ninth in the 2012 Arlington Million, will take his place.
In eight starts at Belmont, Boisterous has won five races, including the 2011 and 2012 renewals of the Grade 3 Knickerbocker and the 2012 Grade 3 Fort Marcy. He has competed in two Grade 1 races at Belmont, finishing third in both the 2011 Man o’ War and 2012 Woodford Reserve Manhattan.
“We’ve always thought he was a Grade 1 kind of horse,” said McGaughey.
Boisterous, a 6-year-old son of Distorted Humor, enters the 2013 Man o’ War in top form, having finished first or second in his last five starts. This year he has finished second to Successful Dan in the Grade 3 Ben Ali in April at Keeneland and won the Grade 2 Monmouth by 1 ¼ lengths on June 9 at Monmouth Park.
“His race in Lexington on the Polytrack was great,” said McGaughey. “There was no pace, and we were four or five lengths back turning for home and got beat a length. Then, he came back and ran really well down at Monmouth and has done real well since then.”
Hall of Famer John Velazquez, aboard Boisterous in the Monmouth, will ride again in the Man o’ War. Boisterous drew post position 6 and was installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite.
Calumet Farm’s Optimizer, second by 1 ½ lengths in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan, will return to Belmont to compete in the Man o’ War. After winning the Grade 3 Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap and Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap over the winter in Louisiana, Optimizer finished fifth in the Grade 2 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Handicap in March at the Fair Grounds, second in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby day at Churchill Downs, and third in the Grade 2 Dixie on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico.
In the Manhattan, the 4-year-old stalked the pacesetter in second, led turning for home, yielded in the stretch to Point of Entry, and dug in to edge Real Solution by a neck for second.
Joel Rosario has the return call aboard Optimizer, will leave from the rail and was tabbed as the 2-1 second choice on the morning line.
Also exiting the Woodford Reserve Manhattan are Finnegans Wake (fourth) and Twilight Eclipse (fifth). Finnegans Wake is seeking his first stakes win, while Twlight Eclipse is looking to regain the form that led to his world record for 1 ½ miles on the turf (2:22.63) in the Grade 2 Pan American in March at Gulfstream.
Speaking of Which will step up in class and stretch out in distance off a 2 ¾-length length triumph in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer on June 21 at Monmouth Park. Earlier in his career the Moyglare Stud Farm homebred won a Group 3 in Ireland and was second in the Grade 2 Twilight Derby for trainer Dermot Weld. Now with Christopher Clement, Speaking of Which was sixth in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Fort Marcy in May at Belmont in his only other start this year.
“I ran him in the Fort Marcy, and I made a big mistake,” said Clement. “He should have gone farther. They went very quickly and he was always one paced. He was not tight enough.”
Clement believes the optional claimer has set up Speaking of Which well for the Man o’ War.
“It was an easy race, but I thought it went well,” said Clement. “He was very impressive. It was a perfect race, mentally, for him, and he came back in very good order. He had one easy work, and he looked great last weekend.”
Jose Lezcano will ride Speaking of Which, 12-1, from post 2.
Exclusive Strike, sixth in the 2011 Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap in his only graded stakes start, will return to graded competition in the Man o’ War. The 6-year-old gelding has won two straight optional claimers, prevailing by four lengths in April at Aqueduct Racetrack and by 4 ¼ lengths on May 24 at Belmont Park. He was third over the Man o’ War’s 1 3/8-mile distance in an optional claimer in March at Gulfstream.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. has picked up the mount aboard 12-1 Exclusive Strike, who drew post 8.
The field also includes Folk Singer, claimed for $25,000 in his most recent start, and Al Khali, the winner of Belmont’s 2010 Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap who was ninth in the Grade 2 Elkhorn on April 26 at Keeneland.
The field for the Grade 1, $600,000 Man o’ War: