The prohibitive 7-10 choice, unbeaten Mani Bhavan is yet to be headed at any call. She repelled a challenge from Jardin near mid-stretch and edged away under brisk handling from jockey Alan Garcia in the final furlong. The daughter of Storm Boot completed the seven-furlong test, Saratoga's signature race for 2-year-old fillies, in 1:25.23 on a fast track.
Delaware-based Steve Klesaris trains Mani Bhavan for owners Puglisi Racing and TYB Stable. The dark bay or brown filly won Saratoga's Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) 18 days earlier by seven lengths.
Mani Bahvan sprinted away to an early 2 1/4-length lead while posting an opening quarter-mile in :22.18. With Casanova Move and Jardin prompting her, Mani Bhavan continued to dictate the pace with a half-mile in :45.46. Jardin, racing along the inside, angled out entering the stretch and nearly reached even terms. But after Garcia got busy on her, Mani Bhavan increased her advantage over Jardin, who drifted in late, to two lengths and held sway in the final stages to post a comfortable win.
“It was a gutsy performance,” Klesaris said. “The runner-up ran a great race, and Mani Bhavan dug in to fight her off. Midway down the stretch, I was concerned. Jardin was coming relentlessly. My filly was digging down and (had) enough to hold her off. I don’t know what’s next. Today was a good test. We’ll go back to the drawing board and evaluate and see what’s next.”
Garcia said Mani Bhavan was restless in the starting gate but came away swiftly.
"I wasn't nervous when I saw Jardin coming at us," he said. "I knew I still a lot of horse to keep going. When she was coming closer to us, my filly was trying hard. I didn’t want to be too hard on her because I wanted to save her for the next race.”
Jardin, ridden by Robby Albarado, settled for second, 5 1/4 lengths in front of the show horse Collegiate, the 3-1 second favorite ridden by Edgar Prado. Casanova Move, Winning Brew and August Rush, who stumbled at the start, completed the order.
A $30,000 Keeneland yearling purchase in September 2007, Mani Bhavan, at odds of 7-1, broke in with a 9 1/4-length win over maiden allowance company going five furlongs at Delaware Park July 12. She came back a month later to coast to victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Adirondack, where she was ridden for the first time by Garcia at odds of 17-2. She earned $150,000 for the victory and has banked $264,000 in her brief career.
Hermitage Farm in Kentucky bred Mani Bhavan, who is out of Rehear, by Coronado's Quest.
She paid $3.40, $2.50 and $2.10 while topping a $2 exacta worth $12.20.
Jardin, winner of the opening day Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III) on a sloppy Saratoga strip July 23 for trainer Steve Asmussen, returned $4 and $2.70.
“I thought she ran a beautiful race," said Asmussen a day after 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin's big win in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I). "Robby (Albarado) gave her a dream trip and finished second. It looked like Robby had a shot to get (Mani Bhavan), but she was getting tired.”
Collegiate, an impressive first-out maiden winner at Belmont Park prior to a fourth-place finish in the Schuylerville, was $2.60 to show for trainer Mark Hennig.
Girlfrienontheside and Mine All Mine scratched.
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