Chad Brown has won five of the past eight runnings of the $400,000 Manhattan Stakes (G1), including last year’s edition with Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar. His contingent in Saturday’s 1 1/4-mile grass test is as good as you might expect, with Instilled Regard, Rockemperor, and Devamani all well positioned to register a first top-level win.
Instilled Regard enters off a neck victory over Devamani in the Fort Marcy Stakes (G3), while Rockemperor will look to make amends after being demoted from second to third for interference after losing the victory outright in the May 23 Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita by a nose.
The competitive field also includes Grade 1 veterans Channel Maker and Sadler’s Joy, neither of whom threatened for the win in the recent Tiller Stakes. Finishing a head second in that 11-furlong prep was Dot Matrix, who previously earned Grade 3 laurels at Sam Houston.
Spooky Channel pulled off a 36-1 stunner in the W.L. McKnight Stakes (G3) in January over Cross Border, and recently showed off his bona fides going shorter when notching a stakes-quality allowance at Churchill going 1 1/16 miles at odds of 8-1.
“I was happy with the way he won that open allowance and I just felt we were prepared to roll the dice a little bit and see how he fits with this spot here in a Grade 1,” trainer Brian Lynch said.
Although she sidestepped a showdown last week with Newspaperofrecord and Uni in the Just a Game Stakes (G1) when the ground deteriorated, Got Stormy still figures to have her hands full facing the boys in the $150,000 Poker Stakes (G3) over a mile on the turf.
A close second two back in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1), Got Stormy has disappointed in two other tries this year against fillies and mares, including a last-out fourth to Newspaperofrecord in the Beaugay Stakes (G3).
“The California race was very good. Her last race was disappointing, but we took her out of her element,” said trainer Mark Casse. “There was no speed in the race and we tried to keep her closer and that was to her demise. We won’t do that again, we’ll let her settle.”
Chad Brown will again attempt to knock down Got Stormy, this time with Valid Point and Value Proposition. Winner of his first three starts including the Secretariat Stakes last summer, Valid Point has not been out since running 10th as the favorite in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) in October.
Value Proposition has also won three of fourth, most recently a course-and-distance allowance on June 3 in his first race since last July.
Another potential late threat is Social Paranoia, last-to-first winner of the Appleton Stakes (G3) in late March for Todd Pletcher.