Imagining winning the Man o' War Stakes. (Photo by Coglinese Photos/NYRA)
Running in a race named after one of the most famous horses in American Thoroughbred history, it was fitting that a horse owned and bred by one of the most established families in American racing was the winner in the Man o’ War Stakes.
Imagining was able to relax during the early part of the race with Frac Daddy racing in second and Grandeur and Amira’s Prince rounding out the top four until the field hit the far turn. But Imagining had to work as the field turned for home, holding off a stretch-run charge from Real Solution, who closed from the back of the field to nearly catch the winner, losing bythree-quarters of a length. Grandeur, an invader from Europe, finished third, a half-length behind Real Solution.
"Shug [McGaughey, Imagining's trainer] told me there wasn't probably going to be a lot of speed in the race and he was coming off a couple of months off, so he'd probably show some speed and he did. He's a game horse. Every time a horse came to him, he's a fighter. I was really happy with him today," said Imagining's jockey, Joel Rosario.
Imagining’s victory in the Man o’ War was the third straight year the combination of Shug McGaughey and the Phipps has taken home the trophy.
"I'd never won the race before and now I've won it three years in a row," said McGaughey. "I'm pleased, I'm pleased for the horse."
If all goes according to plan, Imagining will run in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
In other Belmont races
In the race before the Man o’ War Fiftyshadesofhay lived up to her 8-to-5 odds, winning the Grade 2 Ruffian Stakes in a time of 1:35.70.
Fiftyshadesofhay looked to be in trouble when John Velazquez asked her to get a little closer to the leaders at the end of the backstretch but she clicked into gear on the turn. It took her nearly every step of the stretch to reach the front but she flashed past the wire aboutthree-quarters of a length ahead of Grace Hall with My Wandy’s Girl in third.
Fiftyshadesofhay paid $5.40 for a $2 win ticket.
Last year’s Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice also made his 2014 return to Belmont a winning one. The 4-year-old colt raced in third for the first half of the one-mile Westchester Stakes before easily drawing off to win by 9 ¾ lengths.
PALACE MALICE WINNING THE WESTCHESTER
Photo by Coglinese Photos/Joe Labozzetta
"As soon as he got out on the turn he got into a nice rhythm and I just let him do it,” said jockey John Velazquez. “On the line I just kept him busy. I've been watching Mike Smith and the way he rides him, when he's coming down the lane he keeps him busy. I got surprised with him at Gulfstream Park so I didn't want something like that happening again."
Palace Malice went off at odds of 1-to-20 in the Met Mile prep race against three other horses. It was the third win in three starts this year for the colt.
Palace Malice’s victory paid $2.10 for a $2 win ticket.