Man o' War Highlights Big Saturday at Belmont

(From NYRA edited report)
Saratoga may be over, but there is still plenty of high-class racing left in New York with 12 grade I stakes to be run during the next six weeks at Belmont Park's fall championship meet.

Belmont plays host to three important grade I events Saturday: the $500,000 Man o' War on grass, the $250,000 Gazelle, and the $250,000 Garden City Breeders' Cup on turf. Three-year-old Showing Up, the Secretariat (gr. IT) winner. will be taking on elders for the first time in the Man o' War.

Lael Stables' Showing Up's only loss in six starts this year was a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Otherwise, he has won three times on dirt and twice on turf. After dominating 3-year-olds in the $1 million Colonial Turf Cup and the Secretariat, Showing Up could face his toughest test yet.

"Wouldn't you think so?" trainer Barclay Tagg said. "He's running against older horses in a grade I. He's never done that before."

Three-year-olds have won just nine of the 47 prior runnings of the Man o' War, the last being Defensive Play in 1990. Although Showing Up has never faced older horses, Tagg has the utmost confidence that his colt will be just as good against elders.

"This one should," Tagg said. "It puts some more intense pressure on him the whole way, and you never know how they're going to react to that. This horse looks the part. He's facing three grade I winners, so it's not going to be any walk in the park."

While the Man o' War will not be an easy race for Showing Up, the colt has a way of making it look effortless through the stretch.

"He's surprised me every time," Tagg said. "He just does it so easy. I think a lot of him, but he just runs so well when he runs."

What makes Showing Up such a unique horse is that he has won on the lead and from off the pace on turf and dirt. His versatility, Tagg believes, puts him in an elite class.

"He just seems to do it, no matter what is asked of him," Tagg said.

Should Showing Up win the Man o' War, he would be trained up to the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs, giving him eight weeks between starts.

"If it works out, we'll know we can go to the Breeders' Cup," Tagg said. "If not, we'll know we can't."

The most established older horse in the Man o' War is Juddmonte Farms' Cacique, who is 1-for-5 this year but has been beaten a little more than two lengths combined in his four losses, all in grade I events.
Cacique won the Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) Belmont Stakes Day and comes off a good second to The Tin Man, who wired the field in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) after setting slow fractions.

"I thought the post position got him beat," Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel said of Cacique, who broke from post nine of 10 in the 10-furlong Arlington Million. "I watched the replay the other night. When they break, the inside horses fall right in on the rail and the outside horses have to scramble to catch up just to get in position. Plus, there was some bumping inside of him which took the last four horses out."

"The Tin Man ran a very good race, but he had everything his own way. I would have loved to been inside The Tin Man and then see what happens."

Frankel has no plans for Cacique beyond Saturday's Man o' War. He said he believes the Irish-bred's best distance is a mile and an eighth, but that cutting him back to a mile would be "a little too sharp for him."

Trainer Todd Pletcher will run the same two horses in the Man o' War that he ran in Saratoga's Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT). Go Deputy rallied from off the pace to win his first grade I while pacemaker Ramazutti ran a close fourth at 30-1 odds in the Sword Dancer.

Go Deputy will be looking for his third straight win and has not finished worse than third in seven starts this year.

"We're hoping we can keep him where he is," Pletcher said. "He's in really good form at the moment. He always runs his race, and it seems like in his last couple he's figured out how to close the door on them. He used to be a problem in the paddock and a little bit of a problem in the post parade. Now he's chilled out."

Ramazutti figures to be part of the pace once again and, in long turf races, the horse that controls a slow pace is generally very dangerous.

"He's tough when he gets to walk the dog, and he's consistently right there," Pletcher said. "I'm hoping he's going to steal one of these races one day."

Relaxed Gesture, the 3-5 favorite in the Sword Dancer, will get a rider change to Corey Nakatani after finishing fifth in the Sword Dancer. The 5-year-old got an interesting ride in that race. Running along on a fairly easy lead, his jock wrangled him back to get him covered up, but when he was asked for run in the stretch, Relaxed Gesture had little response.

On his best, Relaxed Gesture figures to be right there. He was only beaten a head by Cacique in the Manhattan and showed he can be brilliant at times winning last year's Canadian International (Can-IT) by 4 1/2 lengths.

Flying Zee Stable's Cosmonaut could be a longshot worth watching in the Man o' War. After wiring the field in the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT), he was beaten only 2 ½ lengths in the Arlington Million while trying to rally from the back of the pack into that slow pace following a troubled start for Julien Leparoux and trainer Patrick Biancone.

Crown Point is likely to be the rank outsider in the Man o' War. He got to within a half-length of Go Deputy in the Bowling Green (gr. IIT), finishing second, and more recently was a troubled seventh in the Sword Dancer.

Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Man o' War
Post Horse Trainer Jockey Weight.
1 Crown Point, David Donk, Javier Castellano, 126
2 Go Deputy, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 126
3 Showing Up, Barclay Tagg, Cornelio Velasquez, 121
4 Cosmonaut, Patrick Biancone, Julien Leparoux, 126
5 Ramazutti, Todd Pletcher, Chris DeCarlo, 126
6 Cacique, Bobby Frankel, Edgar Prado, 126
7 Relaxed Gesture, Christophe Clement, Corey Nakatani, 126