Treasure Beach could be following the same path as 2011 Man o' War winner and eventual champion turf male Cape Blanco when he enters the gate in Saturday's Grade 1 contest at Belmont Park.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien saddled Cape Blanco to a 2 1/4-length triumph in the Man o' War, shipped him back to Ireland, then brought him back to the United States to contest last year's Grade 1 Arlington Million. The chestnut conquered the Arlington Million by 2 1/2 lengths before his trainer once again shipped him back to his Ballydoyle training base in Ireland.
Cape Blanco would make one more trans-Atlantic journey, this time for the the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont last October, but was retired in the days following that contest after sustaining a slab fracture of his knee when winning by a nose in the 1 1/2-mile event.
O'Brien is probably hoping for a similar outcome in terms of results, but not end-of-career injury, when he saddles Treasure Beach in Saturday's Man o' War. The dark bay son of Galileo hasn't visited the winner's circle since taking the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes during Arlington's 2011 International Festival of Racing. In the months following the Secretariat, Treasure Beach has finished 14th in the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in France, third in the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine, fourth in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan and ninth in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong.
Jamie Spencer was aboard for Cape Blanco's three stateside successes, and will make the trek across the pond to ride Treasure Beach, the 9-5 morning-line favorite, in the Man o' War.
Point of Entry has been installed as the 5-2 second pick on the morning line, but the four-year-old son of Dynaformer hasn't been seen in competition since taking the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes on April 27 at Keeneland. The Shug McGaughey trainee's only prior stakes attempt resulted in a well-beaten fourth-place effort on the main-track at Saratoga last July.
"Being a Dynaformer, it took him awhile to come around," his Hall of Fame trainer admitted. "He won an allowance race down there (at Gulfstream Park) in December, which was a good race When he came back (in an optional claimer on February 26), Johnny (Velazquez) said they were all going a little bit earlier and he waited and got himself in trouble and finished fourth."
Point of Entry, who is a half-brother to 2006 Grade 1 Alabama queen Pine Island, was given a slight break following that race, returning on April 12 at Keeneland to take an allowance by 1 1/4 lengths. McGaughey entered his bay charge back 15 days later in the Elkhorn, and Point of Entry rewarded that decision with a 1 1/2-length victory while going the same 1 1/2-mile distance as his prior allowance score.
"(Point of Entry's) two races at Keeneland were good races, and I just thought after I ran him back in (15) days that I'd give him a bit of a blow here and hopefully have a fresh horse for the rest of the year," McGaughey said of the most recent layoff. "I think he's a true mile-and three-eighths to a mile-and-a-half kind of horse."
Jose Lezcano will ride Point of Entry while regular jockey Velazquez recovers from a broken collarbone.
Newsdad completes the morning-line odds trifecta as the 5-1 third choice in the Man o' War, and like Point of Entry the Arch four-year-old is returning in the 1 3/8-mile affair off a run in the Elkhorn.
The Bill Mott-trained Newsdad captured his seasonal bow by 6 3/4 lengths, just missed by a nose in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida and posted a two-length victory in the Grade 2 Pan American, all at Gulfstream Park. He shipped to Kentucky and threw in a subpar fifth in the Elkhorn, and will be trying to get back on the winning track here. Junior Alvarado has the call as regular jockey Julian Leparoux rides at Arlington Park on Saturday.
Hudson Steele scored back-to-back wins in the Henry S. Clark Stakes and Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico to start off his five-year-old campaign, and came up just 1 1/2 lengths short when fourth in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap last out after setting the pace. The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Johannesburg also just missed by a neck in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Stakes at Belmont to cap off his 2011 season last May.
"He hasn't done a whole lot wrong over the spring," assistant trainer Michael McCarthy noted. "He's trained right along since (the Manhattan). He did all the dirty work in the Manhattan, and I think he's better with a target. A mile and three eighths is a little bit of a question mark."
Hudson Steele, 5-1 on the morning line, will have the services of Joe Bravo.
Trainer Naipaul Chatterpaul is hoping Game Ball can emulate stablemate Mission Approved, who two years ago finished second in the Man o' War in his first start off the claim and later went on to capture the 2011 Manhattan.
Game Ball came to Chatterpaul's shedrow out of a neck second at Woodbine via a $47,500 claim on June 13 in his most recent start. The five-year-old hasn't finished outside the exacta in his 10 most recent starts, a streak that began with a triumph in a $7,500 claiming race at Fort Erie last August. Chatterpaul said he had his eye on the son of Sky Mesa for a while, but the chestnut made eight straight starts in starter allowances before he was dangled for a tag in his latest outing.
"Since the ($7,500 race), he's been a different horse," Chatterpaul asserted. "I was hoping they would put him in for a tag at Gulfstream Park. I thought he was going to be a nice horse as a three-year-old. I liked the pedigree -- it says he can run all day long. I liked the horse. Every time he won, I'd sit and wait."
Game Ball will be facing his toughest task to date with David Cohen aboard the 30-1 longest shot on the morning line.
The Man o' War field is completed by Tahoe Lake, placed in the Elkhorn and Grade 3 Louisville Handicap this season but a well-beaten seventh on Belmont's turf most recently; Grade 2-placed Center Divider, who lost his rider at the start of the Elkhorn; and Philly Ace, winner of his last two on turf at Monmouth Park and Belmont.