This week we step off of the Triple Crown Trail and head to Belmont Park for the Man O’ War Stakes. This $700,000 G1 event is for older horses at 1-3/8 miles on Belmont’s inner turf course and will be the 11th race on the card. This is a competitive division with no horse stepping up to take control, and the Man O’ War should provide us with good betting opportunity.
While there is no clear leader amongst the horses, there looks to be a clear leader in the turf training ranks with Chad Brown sending 3 combatants postward. With 3 entrants, Brown will need a win to maintain his 2018 win rate of 30% (25% on the turf).
Favoritism in the Man O’ War belongs to Todd Pletcher’s Hi Happy at a morning line of 5/2. Hi Happy is an Argentinian champion who finally broke through in North America with a win in the G2 Pan American at Gulfstream in his last.
At the longer distance of 1-3/8 miles, the pace of the race will be paramount and should be set by Hi Happy, who will be tracked by One Go All Go. Scholar Athlete looks like he will want to be right there but he doesn’t show the early speed figures to compete early. One Go All Go was able to steal the G2 Dixiana Elkhorn at Keeneland in his last by setting a dawdling pace. I don’t see that happening again this week. With a solid group of graded stakes winners behind them, the ability of these front runners to control a modest tempo is the only way they can be there in the lane.
Looking to sit just off the pace will be Postulation, Catcho En Die, and Money Multiplier. While Postulation and Money Multiplier have graded stake wins to their credit, Catcho En Die was recently claimed for $40,000 and will be stepping up to a spot that looks out of his range.
From the back of the pack will be multiple graded stake winner Sadler’s Joy, along with Wake Forest and Bigger Picture. The chances of this trio will depend on the pace, and while a couple of horses want to be up front, I don’t expect any type of speed duel.
The horse I landed on is the 9/2 morning line Call Provision. Call Provision chased One Go All Go in the Elkhorn and while he saved ground and tried to make an inside move in the lane, he looked uncomfortable throughout most of the race. Most noticeable was his head pulling as they passed the stands for the first time. Call Provision was coming off of a 5 month layoff so I expect trainer Chad Brown to have him in even better shape this week. I also expect him to be a little farther off the pace. Call Provision likes to start slowly and begin to make his move between the 1st and 2nd calls. Though it was a slow pace, he may have been too forwardly placed in his last.
With a 2nd start off of a layoff, the team of Chad Brown and jockey Jose Ortiz should have this horse ready, so I will take Call Provision for the win and hope for the 9/2 morning line odds or better.