Bobby Frankel ran one-two in the $400,000 Manhattan Handicap (gr. I) today at Belmont Park, with Denon holding off Requete in the 10-furlong turf race. Frankel sends out Empire Maker in the following race, the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Denon, ridden by Jerry Bailey, made a sweeping move as they turned for home, moving by the leaders with ease. Charging at him was Requete, with Edgar Prado flailing away. Denon held on by a half length, with Dr. Brendler third another 1 ¼ lengths away.
"[Denon] ran a good race," Frankel said. "I wasn't concerned about his early position. He likes the soft ground, and he got it. [Requete] ran very, very good. I didn't know what to expect from him. He's never run on ground like that before."
It was the second straight Manhattan victory for Frankel, who won the race last year with Beat Hollow.
With Empire Maker readying for the Belmont Stakes later in the day and with Midas Eyes just getting beat a nose in the Riva Ridge one race earlier, Frankel needed a race like the Manhattan to take the edge off.
Denon, a 5-year-old horse by Pleasant Colony, was making just his second start of the year, finishing second in the Jim Murray at Hollywood Park on May 10.
Owned by Edmund Gann and Flaxman, Denon was a multiple grade I winner on the grass last year. Bred in Kentucky by Flaxman, he is out of the Northfields mare Aviance.
None of the early leaders held on in the Manhattan, which was run very slowly over soft turf. Irish Colonial, Caesarion, Honor in War, and With Anticipation all faded down the lane.
"I said last week that was the softest course I had ever ridden on," Bailey said. "This was softer. We're all sinking into it. I was happy with my position. I had to keep nudging him to keep him up in there. I wasn't sure how much horse I had straightening away. When I asked, he really accelerated. His acceleration impressed me, because he has no troubling handling the footing."
"My horse had a beautiful kick," Prado said of Requete. "(Denon) just got the jump on us going around, and circled the whole field."
A length and a quarter behind in third was Dr. Brendler, who went off at 22-1. Although he was defeated, he ran well enough to encourage trainer H. Graham Motion to re-consider his schedule.
"He has proven he can run under these conditions and with a pace like this one," Motion said. "The question was if he could handle himself against Grade 1company. With his finish here, I really have to re-consider and look ahead to some Grade 1 races. There is probably a good chance you will see him at Saratoga this year."
Macaw was fourth in his first start as a gelding, with Caesarion, Honor In War, Irish Colonial, Shaanmer (IRE), Gritty Sandy and the 8-year-old With Anticipation rounding out the order of finish. Patrol and Short Hair were scratched.
Earning $240,000 for the victory, Denon, who won the 1 1/2-mile Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Belmont on a good course Sept. 29, is now six-for-16 lifetime for more than $1.6 million in purses.
Denon ran the distance in 2:14.16 after fractions of :26.29, :53.87, :1:20.76, and 1:47.13. He paid $6.30, $4.20, and $3.10. Requete returned $6.40 and $4.90 and Dr. Brendler paid $7.10.