Mr. O'Brien started the season an average runner winning average races. Now that the year is in full swing the son of Mukaddamah is looking to dominate when he takes the gate for Saturday's $400,000 Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) going 1 1/4-miles on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
The Manhattan will be only the fourth start of the year for Mr. O'Brien, who made his first start of the year on dirt before returning to grass to score a nine-length win in the May 1 Henry Clark Stakes. Most recently he scored a two-length win in the May 15 Argent Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT). Both races were at Pimlico.
Robin Graham conditions Mr. O'Brien for the partnership of Skeedattle II. Ramon Dominguez gets the mount aboard Mr. O'Brien and the pair will break from gate three carrying 116 pounds.
If Mr. O'Brien wants to be considered one of the nation's top turf runners, he will have to take down the Bill Mott-trained Stroll. Claiborne Farm's Stroll, a son of Pulpit
, enters the Manhattan off a powerful win on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) undercard in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. I).
Jockey Jerry Bailey has the mount aboard Stroll who will carry the highweight of 121 pounds.
Another runner capable of holding off both Mr. O'Brien and Stroll is the California invader Meteor Storm from the barn of Wally Dollase. Meteor Storm, who is owned by the partnership of Michael Jarvis, Gary Margolis, and Ken Smole and partners, enters the Manhattan off back-to-back wins in the March 20 San Luis Rey Handicap (gr. IIT) and a length score in the April 18 San Juan Capistrano Handicap (gr. IIT), both at Santa Anita, going 1 3/4 mile and 1 1/2-miles, respectively.
Meteor Storm will break from gate five under jockey Jose Valdivia Jr., carrying 117 pounds.
The field for Saturday's $400,000 Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) includes:
1--King's Drama (Jorge Chavez, 115)
2--Quest Star (Pat Day, 115)
3--Mr O' Brien (Ramon Dominguez, 116)
4--Stroll (Jerry Bailey, 121)
5--Meteor Storm (Jose Valdivia Jr., 117)
6--Millenium Dragon (Richard Migliore, 116)
7--Request for Parole (Jose Santos, 115)
8--Epicentre (Edgar Prado, 118)
9--Better Talk Now (Alex Solis, 114)
10--Kicken Kris (John Velazquez, 118)