By Tom Quigley
$400,000 Manhattan (G1) at Belmont Park
Race 10 (Saturday, July 4, 2020: 6:20 p.m./ET; 3:20 p.m./PT) One mile and a quarter on the turf (four-year-olds and upward)
Trainer Chad Brown has been a terror on turf over the past decade, racking off win after win in major grass races across the country. On Saturday at Belmont, it appears Brown, once more, holds the goods in the 2020 Manhattan (G1), a Grade 1 affair for older colts and geldings routing the classic 10-furlong distance. Brown enters a trio of contenders while five others look to spoil the fun for the Brown army. Who wins? Let’s attempt to answer that question:
#1 INSTILLED REGARD is the first of three Chad Brown trainees entered. Son of ARCH is one-for-three this year, having most recently won the Fort Marcy (G2) over this turf course while earning a triple digit Beyer Speed Figure (102). Irad Ortiz Jr. was aboard #2 ROCKEMPEROR last time out and opts to ride this guy, which can only be seen as a positive. Will be rolling from off the pace.
#2 ROCKEMPEROR (IRE) has run four races in the United States for Team Brown but has failed to win any of those starts. However, his best race yet came last time out in the Charles Whittingham (G2) at Santa Anita, where he lost by a nose to 2019 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) runner up UNITED. Nonetheless, one of Brown’s top riders sides with #1 INSTILLED REGARD and he has yet to win for a barn who usually wins quickly with European imports.
#3 CROSS BORDER was last seen running second in an allowance race over this course while returning from a fourth month layoff. His best races have come traveling 10 furlongs or longer, so there’s reason to believe he will be more cranked up for his second start off the layoff. Before the layoff, he lost by a neck in the William McKnight (G3) at Gulfstream.
#4 SADLER’S JOY has danced every dance, running in North America’s premier Grade I marathon distance grass events over the past three years. That said, this son of KITTEN’S JOY has posted just one win in his last 12 starts, with that victory coming in the Red Smith (G3) last November in which he defeated #7 DOT MATRIX. Most recently, the Tom Albertrani trainee went off favored in a minor stake and finished a good third in a field of 12. He’ll likely be more cranked up this time around, but may be best used underneath in exotics.
#5 DEVAMANI (FR) is another who makes his second start off a four-month layoff. In his last two starts for Chad Brown, this son of DUBAWI lost by narrow margins in the Tampa Bay Stakes (G3) and the Fort Marcy (G2). Brown wins at 28% with runners making their second start off a layoff between 61-180 days and if you think he can improve just a tad with that race under his belt in the form cycle, then he has the looks of an upset candidate.
#6 CHANNEL MAKER failed to fire in his most recent start, a race in which he finished well behind #4 SADLER’S JOY and #7 DOT MATRIX. Has now finished off-the-board in his last four races and held much better form in 2019. His best days may be behind him.
#7 DOT MATRIX was all heart but second best when finishing a head behind the winner in his most recent start. An improving NY-bred gelding at the ripe age of seven, this will be the toughest test of his career, but he does like to win races (10-for-33 lifetime).
#8 SPOOKY CHANNEL was a 36/1 upset winner of the William McKnight (G3) at Gulfstream over the winter but has since finished off the board in a pair of graded stakes races. Most recently, this Brian Lynch trainee got a confidence booster when picking up a win in an allowance race at Churchill Downs. Back in against stakes company here, Lynch employs his go-to rider, jockey Julien Leparoux.
1. #1 INSTILLED REGARD - Possesses the strongest closing kick.
2. #4 SADLER’S JOY - Looking for another slice of the pie.
3. #5 DEVAMANI - Lost by a neck to our top pick last time.
Longshot Value Play: #2 ROCKEMPEROR - Good enough to be competitive here.
I’ll box my top three picks In exactas, then key my top pick over my other three selections and #7 DOT MATRIX in trifectas and also play my remaining $2 to win on my longshot value play.
Bankroll Play ($50 Budget)
$4 Exacta Box: #1 INSTILLED REGARD and #4 SADLER’S JOY and #5 DEVAMANI ($24).
$2 Trifecta: #1 INSTILLED REGARD over #2 ROCKEMPEROR and #4 SADLER’S JOY and #5 DEVAMANI and #7 DOT MATRIX ($24).
$2 Win: #2 ROCKEMPEROR
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