Manila, who was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2008, died Feb. 28 in Turkey because of an aortic rupture. The 26-year-old son of Lyphard was sold for stallion duty to the Turkish Jockey Club in late 1996 after standing at William S. Farish’s Lane’s End Farm near Versailles, Ky.
Manila’s enshrinement in the Hall of Fame seemed long overdue. The Northern Dancer grandson finally made it after 11 times on the ballot, despite finishing in the top two in all 14 turf races and being remembered as one of the top grass runners since John Henry in the 1980s. Manila won five grade I stakes, including the 1986 Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) the year he was voted champion male turf runner and the 1987 Budweiser-Arlington Million (gr. IT).
The field for the Breeders’ Cup Turf proved “unbelievably strong,” according to Manila’s trainer LeRoy Jolley. “There also were (subsequent) champions Theatrical, Estrapade, and Dancing Brave, who was the best horse to come out of Europe for a long time.”
Dancing Brave, fresh off an overpowering score in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I), went off as the 1-2 favorite but proved no match for the others. Manila, the 8-1 third choice, won by a neck over Theatrical, who finished 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Estrapade. Dancing Brave ran fourth.
A 3-year-old at the time, Manila was voted champion turf male. His other wins that year had come in the Turf Classic (gr. IT), the United Nations Handicap (gr. IT) in course-record time, the Cinema Handicap (gr. IIT), and the Ballantine’s Scotch Classic Stakes (gr. IIIT). There was a belief in some quarters that Manila was the year’s best overall 3-year-old, but the 3-year-old male championship instead went to Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Snow Chief.
A Kentucky-bred, Manila raced for his breeder, Edwardo Cojuangco, until he was acquired privately by Bradley Shannon following the colt’s three starts as a 2-year-old. As Cojuangco had lived at one time in the Philippines, he named Manila after that country’s capital. Manila remained in Shannon’s hands the remainder of his racing career.
Manila proved nearly as impressive at 4 as he was at 3. In addition to the Budweiser-Arlington Million, he won another United Nations Handicap, plus the Early Times Turf Classic and Elkhorn Stakes. He lost out in Eclipse Award balloting to Theatrical, whom he had beaten in the Budweiser-Arlington Million in their only confrontation that year. Theatrical finished the year with a score in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
That same year, Manila’s half-brother, Stately Don (by Nureyev), was Ireland’s champion 3-year-old miler. He also was a two-time grade I turf winner that year in the United States.
Manila was retired after the Budweiser-Arlington Million because of a hairline fracture. Campaigned initially on dirt, he won a dozen races and ran second in five others from 18 starts. He earned $2,692,799.
Manila, out of the Le Fabuleux mare Dona Ysidra, entered stud at Lane’s End in 1988. He sired 32 stakes winners, including U.S. grade I turf winner Bien Bien, Derby Italiano (It-I) winner Time Star, and three Turkish champions.