Manhattan S. (G1) — Race 10 (5:38 p.m. ET)
The $750,000 Manhattan S. (G1) over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Belmont Park on Saturday has the look of a potential race-off between Colonel Liam and Domestic Spending, who dead-heated for the win in the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs in their first encounter of the season on May 1.
Favored at 7-5 that day off back-to-back wins in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) and Muniz Memorial (G2), Colonel Liam could not be separated from Domestic Spending, who was relatively lukewarm in the wagering despite having captured last year’s Hollywood Derby (G1) and Saratoga Derby, the latter over an unlucky Colonel Liam.
“I think he thought he had (the Turf Classic) won last time and he may have idled a touch when he got to the lead,” trainer Todd Pletcher said.
Domestic Spending’s trainer, Chad Brown, has won the Manhattan six times in the last nine years. He’ll also be represented by Fort Marcy (G3) upsetter Tribhuvan; Rockemperor, runner-up by a neck in the 2020 Manhattan as the favorite; and Chilean import Master Piece, who captured a Keeneland allowance in his season debut.
Gufo, narrowly beaten twice by Domestic Spending at Del Mar and Saratoga last season, ran what many thought was a winning race first up in the May 8 Man o’ War (G1) over 11 furlongs, but he wound up losing in a photo to Channel Cat. He’ll also be joined by fellow Christophe Clement stablemate City Man, the second-place finisher in the nine-furlong Fort Marcy.
Just a Game S. (G1) — Race 8 (3:58 p.m. ET)
The $500,000 Just a Game S. (G1), for fillies and mares over a mile on the turf, features a rematch of the top four finishers from the May 1 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) — Blowout, New York Girl, Zofelle, and Abscond — all of whom were separated by three parts of a length. Chad Brown, who trains Blowout, has also entered several others, including recent Jenny Wiley (G1) runner-up Tamahere and Group 3 winner Pocket Square.
Daddy Is a Legend has placed multiple times at Grade 1 level, including the 2019 Just a Game, while the Godolphin-owned Summer Romance and Althiqa both bring capable form from Europe for trainer Charlie Appleby.
Jaipur S. (G1) — Race 6 (2:41 p.m. ET)
Bound for Nowhere, who generally races prominently, had to get creative in the Shakertown (G2) at Keeneland when last seen in early April. After a slow start, the seven-year-old was forced to rally from farther back than at any point in his career. Class ultimately told, though, and Bound for Nowhere escaped with a photo-finish victory.
That versatility could serve the veteran well in the $400,000 Jaipur S. (G1), a six-furlong turf dash which has attracted a strong field.
“He’s had a lot of minor issues along the way that’s taken a lot of time to get to the races, which is why he’s only had 15 total starts in his career, but this year he really turned the corner,” owner-trainer Wesley Ward said.
With a better start, Bound for Nowhere could provide a target for the likes of Fast Boat and Sombeyay, one-two in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G2) at Churchill Downs last time; Casa Creed, victorious in the seven-furlong Elusive Quality S. most recently; and California invader Gregorian Chant, who’s won three straight for Phil D’Amato.
The veteran mares Got Stormy and Oleksandra are also capable with their best. The multiple Grade 1-winning Got Stormy saw her career rejuvenated last season when focusing on sprints, while Oleksandra captured the 2020 edition of the Jaipur and is three-for-three over the Belmont turf.