German-bred Wake Forest, who has done little wrong in two starts for trainer Chad Brown this year, chases his second grade I victory in a row in the $300,000 United Nations Stakes (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park.
The 6-year-old son of Sir Percy earned his first U.S. stakes victory and first grade or group I with a powerful rally in the May 14 Man o' War (gr. IT), in which he defeated stablemate Money Multiplier by three-quarters of a length. Money Multiplier also returns in this spot as one of three entries for Brown; the 4-year-old son of Lookin at Lucky is in pursuit of his first stakes score.
The 1 3/8-mile Man o' War—same distance as the United Nations—was the first grade I outing for Wake Forest under Brown's supervision. He ran sixth in the 2015 Arlington Million (gr. IT) for his former owners Klaus Allofs and Stiftung Gestut Fahrhof (also his breeder) and trainer Andreas Wohler, and was then purchased by Michael Dubb, Sheep Pond Partners, and Bethlehem Stables. He made his debut for his new connections in the April 2 Pan American (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park with a head loss to Kaigun before winning the Man o' War, and was scratched from the June 11 Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) to instead target this race.
Grade III winner Mr Maybe, who races for Dubb, Head of Plains Partners, and Highclere America, completes the Brown trio. The 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper was third last time out behind Grand Tito and Kaigun in the March 5 Mac Diarmida (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez gets the return call on Wake Forest, the 123-pound highweight, from post 3 in a field of 10; Javier Castellano picks up the mount on Money Multiplier from the 8 hole, and Irad Ortiz Jr. has the assignment on Mr Maybe.
Can'thelpbelieving, third in the Man o' War, will start from the inside when he takes another shot at his rivals. In his first step into grade I company, trainer Graham Motion's 5-year-old Duke of Marmalade gelding earned his first graded stakes placing with that Man o' War run. Joe Bravo, who won the 2015, 2013, and 2012 editions of the United Nations, rides for the first time. Motion took the United Nations in 2014 with Main Sequence, who went on to win champion grass horse and champion older horse honors that season.
Multiple grade III winner World Approval has been knocking on the grade I door for trainer Mark Casse in his past two starts, with a third in the Manhattan and a runner-up finish by a neck to Divisidero in the May 7 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs. Triple Threat looks to get back on track after bad racing luck in both of those events; he jumped a fallen foe and lost his rider in the Turf Classic, then ran seventh after breaking slowly in the Manhattan.