Desert Blanc best late in Manhattan Handicap
Desert Blanc and Papaw Bodie raced to the wire together but Desert Blanc got his nose down at the right time to capture a photo finish and the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park Saturday.
Under Ramon Dominguez, Desert Blanc was making only his second start in North America for trainer Chad Brown. It was the fourth victory from seven starts for the son of Desert Style, who debuted in France last year.
Race favorite Hudson Steele set a sensible pace for the 1 1/4 miles, but Papaw Bodie and Desert Blanc kept close order through fractions of 24.62 and 49.42. Turning for home, Hudson Steele began to kick away, but his two rivals eventually caught him in mid-stretch and battled to the finish line. The winning time was 1:59.65. Boisterous got up for third over Hudson Steele just before the wire.
Desert Blanc is owned by Swift Thoroughbreds Inc, Mackie, Vintage Thoroughbreds LLC et al and was bred in Great Britain by Haras Du Mezeray.
Manhattan Handicap Quotes:
Chad Brown, winning trainer of Desert Blanc (No. 4): “Ramon rode a beautiful race. He had excellent position in the first turn to take it from there. Bloodstock agent Peter Bradley deserves a lot of credit. He tried several times to buy this horse in France. He was adamant we buy him.
“I thought we could move him forward in start No. 2 here [after a second in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy]. 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.”
Ramon Dominguez, winning jockey aboard of Desert Blanc (No. 4): “I had a great trip. 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.”
Rosie Napravnik, rider of runner-up Papaw Bodie (No. 3): “I was nosed out at the wire today. I was on a horse that was every bit as talented as the winner. He’ll have his day.”
Todd Pletcher, trainer of beaten favorite Hudson Steele (No. 7): “The last sixteenth kind of got to him a bit, but he ran well.”
Javier Castellano rider of fourth-place finisher and beaten favorite Hudson Steele (No. 7): “I had a beautiful trip. That’s what I expected. There was no speed in the race. The way the fractions were, he was pretty comfortable on the lead. I didn’t want to take away from the way he wanted to go. Nobody wanted to go the lead. It worked out great for me. The horse responded really well today.”
“The track is fast today, and firm. The horses with speed carried a lot today. I tried to steal the race; unfortunately, those horses are good horses, too. I thought at one point he could do it. I asked him and he responded so well, but he couldn’t hold on.”