Desert Blanc takes Manhattan
Trainer Chad Brown continues to stake his claim as heir apparent to the late
Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel. Already successful with ex-Europeans in the filly
and mare turf division, Brown notched his first Grade 1 win with a male courtesy
of the British-bred Desert Blanc in Saturday's $500,000
Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park. An encouraging second in his U.S. debut
in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy on May 5, the 6-1 shot quickened smartly between foes,
then just saw off the bold challenge of Papaw Bodie to post a career-best.
|Desert Blanc (right) prevailed by a nose over Papaw Bodie
(NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
"I thought we could move him forward in start number two here," Brown said.
"He's looking for firm ground and he got it today. It's a wonderful race. I got
third (in 2010) with Expansion and got a little taste."
Desert Blanc benefited from a ground-saving ride by Ramon Dominguez, who
swept both Grade 1 turf events on the Belmont Stakes undercard. Two races
earlier, New York's perennial leading rider had engineered a front-running win
aboard Tapitsfly in the Just a Game.
The 2-1 Manhattan favorite Hudson Steele secured the early lead through
fractions of :24 3/5, :49 2/5 and 1:13 3/5, slow considering the firm going on
the inner turf. Papaw Bodie settled into a close stalking role, while Desert
Blanc was also well placed just off the pace. Brilliant Speed and Omayad
appeared to be on the move on the far turn, but their efforts proved
short-lived. Omayad quickly emptied to last, and Brilliant Speed plugged on
Hudson Steele ratcheted up the tempo, getting a mile in 1:36 4/5. Although
the favorite kept rolling into the stretch, he started to look vulnerable the
farther they went. Desert Blanc and Papaw Bodie, on the other hand, were both
Desert Blanc got a lovely split between Hudson Steele and Papaw Bodie and
powered to the front. No sooner had Desert Blanc taken command than Papaw Bodie
issued a rejoinder. Desert Blanc repelled him after a stern tussle, but only by
a nose. After speeding 1 1/4 miles in 1:59 3/5, the winner returned $14.80,
$8.10 and $5.70.
|Desert Blanc (inside) is the first Grade 1-winning male trained by Chad Brown
(NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography via Facebook)
"Ramon rode a beautiful race," Brown said. "He had excellent position in the
first turn to take it from there."
"I had a great trip," Dominguez said. "I was fortunate enough to get in
between horses turning for home and he was pretty determined to get up. I was
concerned about the lack of early speed, but I just trying to do my best to keep
him cool and we prevailed at the end."
"I was nosed out at the wire today," said Rosie Napravnik, rider of Papaw
Bodie. "I was on a horse that was every bit as talented as the winner. He'll
have his day."
Boisterous, who had beaten the reappearing Desert Blanc in the Fort Marcy,
checked in another 1 1/2 lengths back in third. He just nipped the tiring Hudson
Steele on the line. Brilliant Speed, Al Khali and Omayad rounded out the order
of finish, and Top Surprize was scratched.
With the $300,000 payday, Desert Blanc's resume reads 7-4-1-1, $428,133. The
bay colt began his career for Pascal Bary in France about this time last year.
Desert Blanc won his first three starts, capped by the Prix de Tourgeville, and
suffered his first loss when third in the Group 3 Prix du Prince d'Orange. Up in
class for the Group 2 Prix Dollar, he wound up a well-beaten eighth behind
Cirrus des Aigles. Since his export, he races for the partnership of Swift
Thoroughbreds, Mackie Racing, Vintage Thoroughbreds et al.
"Bloodstock agent Peter Bradley deserves a lot of credit," Brown said. "He
tried several times to buy this horse in France. He was adamant we buy him."
Bred by Haras du Mezeray, Desert Blanc is by Desert Style and out of the
Indian Ridge mare Lumiere Rouge. He is a half-brother to German stakes winner
Lumiere Noire and the French stakes-placed Lumiere Astrale. This is the family
of French Group 2 victor Signe Divin and Group 1 stars Spadoun and Satwa Queen.
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