Adjudged Arlington Million (gr. IT) victor Real Solution seeks a return to the winner's circle as the 124-pound highweight Sunday, May 11 in the $400,000 Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont Park, but has some solid competiton in group I winner Lucayan and two-time grade II winner Grandeur.
Trained by Chad Brown for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Real Solution has not notched a victory in three starts since he was put up over South African-bred The Apache in the Million last August. The 5-year-old Pennsylvania-bred son of Kitten's Joy was third in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont in September, but ran a lackluster ninth in the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT).
Freshened by his connections with a rest from that Nov. 2 event at Santa Anita Park until the March 29 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Handicap (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Real Solution wound up fourth of five in that 1 1/8-mile event. Javier Castellano has the mount this time out from post 6.
Pandora Stud's Lucayan ships for his first try over the Belmont lawn in pursuit of his first North American grade I score. The 5-year-old son of the Irish-bred stallion Turtle Bowl has been running well for trainer Neil Drysdale in California.
Winner of the Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes (gr. IIT) in December and a group I classic winner going a mile in his native land, Lucayan ran third with a five-wide late rally in the Feb. 8 San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) at 1 1/4 miles on the Santa Anita Park turf, then was second by half a length in the 1 1/2-mile San Luis Rey Stakes (gr. IIT) after stalking the pace throughout. Jose Lezcano will be in the irons as part of a 121-pound impost from outside in the field of seven older runners;
Irish-bred Grandeur, a 5-year-old son of Irish-bred Verglas, is well-traveled for Yvonne Jacques and trainer Jeremy Noseda. He first came to the U.S. in 2012 and won the Twilight Derby (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita, then was second in the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) and took the Hollywood Turf Cup that year.
Back at York and Newmarket in the summer of 2013 he went winless, and came to Arlington Park for a Million bid that failed as he finished seventh.
Since then, Grandeur has won three of four starts in weight for age stakes at Goodwood and Lingfield from September of 2013 to April of this year. Julien Leparoux will ride from the rail; the European invader carries 121.
One who could be poised to jump up for his biggest score is Phipps Stable homebred Imagining. The 6-year-old son of Giant's Causeway won the Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct Racetrack going the Man o' War distance in November, and was runner-up to Lochte in the Feb. 9 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) at Gulfstream Park for trainer Shug McGaughey in his first start since then.
McGaughey and the Phipps have won the past two editions of the Man o' War, with Boisterous in 2013 and Point of Entry in 2012. Joel Rosario rides this year's contender from the 2 hole; Imagining also carries 121.
Magic City Thoroughbred Partners' versatile Frac Daddy is also an interesting contender for this race. The 4-year-old Scat Daddy colt returns to Belmont for the first time since finishing 14th in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Since then, he has moved to turf and synthetic surfaces with success, most recently winning the April 19 Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) by 4 3/4 lengths going 1 1/8 miles on Keeneland Polytrack. Alan Garcia gets the call back for trainer Ken McPeek from post 4; Frac Daddy carries 117.
Amira's Prince, who races for Wachtel Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Gary Barber, and Brous Stable, seeks his first win since a lengthy layup for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. The Irish-bred Teofilo runner went to the shelf in March 2013 after putting together a four-race win streak that began with his North American debut in a Gulfstream Park allowance and capped with the Mervin Muniz win.
Entered off the bench in the Gulfstream Park Turf, Amira's Prince turned in a good third behind Lochte and Imagining. He came back March 29 to close for a neck second behind frontrunning Skyring in his Mervin Muniz defense. This is his first start since then; Hall of Famer John Velazquez gets the mount from post 5 as part of a 121-pound assignment.
Allen Stable's Vertiformer was last seen closing up the rail for trainer Christophe Clement with a rush in the March 29 Pan American Stakes (gr. IIT) to get second by a neck to Newsdad at Gulfstream. The 7-year-old Dynaformer runner seeks his first graded score and has not won since June of 2012, although he spent part of that time on the sidelines from January of 2013 and this season. Joe Bravo will be in the irons from the 3 hole as Vertiformer gets in with 115.
$400,000 Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT, Race 9, approximate post 5:28 p.m. EDT), 4YOs & Up, 1 3/8 miles (inner turf)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Grandeur (IRE), J. Leparoux, 121, J Y Noseda
2. Imagining (KY), J. Rosario, 121, C R McGaughey III
3. Vertiformer (KY), J. Bravo, 115, C Clement
4. Frac Daddy (KY), A. Garcia, 117, K G McPeek
5. Amira's Prince (IRE), J. Velazquez, 121, W I Mott
6. Real Solution (PA), J. Castellano, 124, C C Brown
7. Lucayan (FR), J. Lezcano, 121, N D Drysdale