Back in 1926, the legendary songwriting team of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart wrote that “we’ll turn Manhattan into an isle of joy.” That song, “Manhattan,” penned for the Broadway musical “Garrick Gaities,” was a big hit around the time a Thoroughbred trainer named James Rowe Sr. was recording the last of his six victories in the Manhattan Stakes, a race inaugurated in 1867 at defunct Jerome Park.
Fast forward nearly a century to 2021, when another Thoroughbred trainer, Chad Brown, was turning the Manhattan Stakes into a personal isle of joy, winning the119th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 turf fixture over a mile and a quarter for the seventh time – all in the last 10 years. It took Rowe 45 years to collect his six Manhattan wins.
Brown entered four of the Manhattan’s field of 10 older turf runners, and he finished 1-2, with Klaravich Stables Inc.’s 4-5 favorite Domestic Spending coming from well off the pace under Flavien Prat to corral Brown’s pacesetting Tribhuvan and Eric Cancel in the final furlong to win going away by 2 3/4 lengths. Tribhuvan held second, with early trailer Gufo getting up for third and West Coast invader Masteroffoxhounds finishing fourth. Brown-trained Rockemperor and Master Piece finished fifth and sixth, with Channel Cat, Colonel Liam, City Man and Bye Bye Melvin completing the order of finish.
Time for 1 1/4 miles was 1:59.08. Domestic Spending, a 4-year-old Kingman gelding bred in Great Britain by Rabbah Bloodstock Limited, paid $5 for the win, his sixth in seven lifetime starts.
An inquiry was conducted into the stretch run concerning the winner drifting into the path of Masteroffoxhouds, but the original order of finish stood.
This was the second Manhattan hat trick for Brown, a four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer who scored with Horse of the Year and male turf champion Bricks and Mortar in 2019 and Instilled Regard last year. He put three consecutive Manhattan successes together from 2014-16 with Real Solution, Slumber and Flintshire, respectively. Brown won his first Manhattan in 2012 with Desert Blanc. This marks the third consecutive year he’s finished 1-2 in the race.
“This has been an important race for us,” said Brown. “It’s such a great tradition, and to be run before the Belmont Stakes every year. It is one of the premier turf races for males at a classic distance in the country and I hold it in high regard. We point for it every year, and I’ve been so lucky, me and my team, to have some good horses through the years to work with.”
The Manhattan victory was the second G1 triumph on the Belmont Stakes card for Brown and Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables. They teamed with Jose Ortiz to win the G1 Acorn Stakes with Search Results.
Cancel seemed intent on securing the early lead on the French-bred Tribhuvan, who came into the Manhattan off a wire-to-wire victory in the G2 Fort Marcy at Belmont Park May 1. He sailed along at a good clip, getting the first quarter mile in :23.81 and the half in :46.95, then opening up a wide margin approaching the far turn after six furlongs in 1:11.00.
Prat settled Domestic Spending into seventh early, a few paths off the hedge rounding the first turn. He remained unhurried until going into the final turn, gradually gaining ground and swinging five wide into the stretch to take aim on his front-running stablemate. Tribhuvan kept running strong through a mile in 1:35.51, but Domestic Spending had too much class and momentum in the final quarter mile, taking command inside the sixteenth pole for the win.
“We had a good trip,” said Prat. “He broke well and I got him to relax all the way around there. It was a pretty strong pace. When it was time to make a move, he responded very well. Then, he was floating a little bit down the lane when he was by himself. He ran a good race.
“He went a mile and a quarter well today. He showed a good turn-of-foot last time and today, with the strong pace it’s hard to show the same turn of foot and he did. I think I had more in reserve. He was floating a little bit down the lane, but I felt that I had more horse.”
“My horse ran a great race,” Cancel said of Tribhuvan. “It was a wonderful performance. The instructions were to go to the lead and if you can take it, take it. I tried to work hard to get the win, but he got beat by the other horse. He still ran great. And I can’t take it away from him.
“I try to let him relax and put my hands down on him. From there on, he was doing everything by his himself. When I asked him, he picked it up. He just got beat by a better horse.”
The victory was the third consecutive G1 for Domestic Spending, purchased by Klaravich Stables for about US$414,000 as a yearling at the Tattersalls October yearling sale in England. He came into the Manhattan off a dead-heat win with Colonel Liam in the G1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, his first race since winning the G1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar last Nov. 28. Before that, Domestic Spending won the Saratoga Derby Invitational in August after suffering his lone defeat when third in the G2 Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga. He’s now won six of seven starts.
“This horse has been a particular challenge,” said Brown. “We had to geld him after his 2-year-old year, even with that breeding, because he wouldn’t train. We had several different people on our team working with this horse, down at Stonestreet and down in Ocala. So many people have touched this horse and really worked with and got his natural ability out of him. The latest is Flavien [Prat], who is now getting along just terrific with this horse. It’s really my team. They’ve done an outstanding job developing this horse. There was a point in time when he was a baby that I didn’t think we’d ever get him to the races.”
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