There are many traditions at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes day. They include the Belmont Breeze cocktail, the playing of “New York, New York” as they come on the track, and the running of the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino Manhattan Stakes on the undercard.
resorts world casino manhattan stakes
First held in 1867, the Manhattan has been held on the Belmont undercard, usually as the race immediately preceding the Belmont, every year since 1994, with the exception of 2020. The race annually attracts some of the top older male grass horses in the country, and this year is no exception. Let’s take a closer look at this year’s Manhattan field, which will be the 120th running of the race.
1. L’Imperator (15-1): In recent years, this race has been the Chad Brown show. He’s won it seven times in the past nine years, and has entered four this year in pursuit of his eighth Manhattan win. L’Imperator managed two allowance wins last year, but he didn’t earn his first stakes triumph until a gate-to-wire win over a very wet track in the Fort Marcy Stakes last out. He’s drawn to the inside, which will allow him to protect pace position, and keeps Eric Cancel in the saddle. However, there’s going to be a lot more speed in this race than there was in the Fort Marcy and it’s unlikely he’ll be able to set very soft fractions again.
2. Gufo (3-1): This Christophe Clement trainee has enjoyed success over the Belmont Park grass, winning the 2020 Belmont Derby on this surface. Last year, he won the Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes at Saratoga in a determined effort. He started his 2022 with a win in the Pan American Stakes Presented by Rood & Riddle at Gulfstream Park, but was then upset in the Man o’ War Stakes last out. He has a powerful closing kick and is one of the classiest members of the field.
3. Tokyo Gold (30-1): Last year’s Italian Derby winner shipped over here twice, and finished second in the Belmont Derby Invitational at 16.10-1 odds. In his final stateside start of the season, he was a non-threatening fifth in the Jockey Club Derby Invitational last September, and showed little in two starts in Europe since then. He’ll have to improve quite a bit to contend with these.
4. Adhamo (4-1): A recent addition to the Chad Brown barn, this Irish-bred Group 3 winner was a fast-closing second in the Fair Grounds Stakes in his stateside debut, then finished third in the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic Stakes after a wide trip. Flavien Prat, one of the top grass riders in the country, gets the call. This colt will try to save more ground than last time and find clear sailing when the field turns for home.
5. In Love (15-1): He enjoyed success last year in Kentucky, winning back-to-back stakes races against milers. In his first start of the year, he got a ground-saving trip in the Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland but had no punch late. This will be his first start at 1 ¼ miles or longer since November 2019. He has great late pace figures, but it’s a question as to how he’ll handle the extra distance.
6. Rockemperor (4-1): You can throw out his poor performance in the Fort Marcy last out. As noted above, the grass was extremely wet that day, and it’s likely he just didn’t handle it well. While there is some rain in the forecast on Saturday, it’s unlikely that the course will be nearly as boggy as it was May 7. Last year, he won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational in a 15.60-1 upset, and he has some strong recent grass workouts on this course. Irad Ortiz Jr, one of the top jockeys in the country, gets the mount.
7. Tribhuvan (8-1): The fourth and final Chad Brown entrant in the field, he went gate-to-wire to win the United Nations Stakes last summer but has missed the board in his last three starts. In fact, he’s lost his last two starts by a combined 27 ¾ lengths. He was much better at this time last year, including a runner-up finish in the Manhattan. He may be in here in part to ensure an honest pace for Adhamo and Rockemperor, while softening up some of the speed horses drawn to his outside.
8. Highland Chief (6-1): He shocked the racing world last out when he won the Man o’ War Stakes in a 19.20-1 upset. In doing so he gave jockey, Trevor McCarthy, his first Grade 1 win. In contrast to his first American start, where he sat near the back and showed little, Highland Chief rated just off the pace in the Man o’ War and held sway in the stretch after striking the front. He improved sharply in that race and has every chance to keep the momentum going, but you certainly won’t get his Man o’ War price again. Graham Motion has won this race three times, most recently with Spring Quality in 2018.
9. Santin (7-2): This lightly-raced 4-year-old earned a breakthrough win last out when he took the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic, which was just his sixth career race. He’s improved with every start and should be forwardly placed in the early stages. Tyler Gaffalione, the leading rider at Churchill Downs, is coming to Belmont primarily for this mount.
10. Channel Maker (8-1): This 8-year-old gelding is closing in on the $4 million mark in career earnings. He won back-to-back Grade 1 races in 2020 and rebounded from a winless 2021 season with a victory in the Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland in his season debut last out. He has potent early speed and will have to deal with several speed horses drawn to his inside. As noted above, two of Chad Brown’s runners will likely be near the pace, as will Santin to his direct inside. He held off pace pressure to win last time, a noted departure from his prior races, where he needed to be left alone on the lead to have a chance. It’s certainly encouraging.
THE PICK: Santin
LIVE LONGSHOT: Highland Chief