Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey looks for his fourth consecutive win in the $400,000 Man o’ War (G1) at Belmont Park when he saddles the defending champion Imagining, the 8-5 morning line favorite.
Imaging took the field gate to wire to win the race last year. McGaughey won with Point of Entry in 2012 and Boisterous in 2013.
After the win, the son of Giant’s Causeway lost his next five starts including a seventh place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). The colt won his last race, taking the Pan American (G2) at Gulfstream Park going 1 ½ miles.
The Man o’ War is one of four graded stakes on the 10-race card at Belmont Park on Saturday.
The stakes action starts early in the third race when a compact field of five will go 1 1/8 miles in the $200,000 Peter Pan (G2), traditionally a prep race for the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 6.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will send out a pair, Arkansas Derby Derby (G1) fourth place finisher Madefromlucky (3-1) and recent first level allowance winner Two Weeks Off (9-5).
The fourth race is the $250,000 Ruffian (G2) for fillies and mares going one mile on the main track. Just six were entered with five betting interests.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin sends out the entry of Via Strata and Wedding Toast, the 8-5 morning line favorites. The second choice is Madison (G1) winner Princess Violet at 9-5.
The $150,000 Beaugay (G3) is the seventh race on the card, the 1 1/16 mile test on turf for fillies and mares drawing a field of seven.
Discreet Marq, who was third in the Matriarc (G1) at Del Mar on Nov. 30 in her last start, is the 2-1 morning line favorite for trainer Christophe Clement.
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Belmont Park Race 9 The Man o’ War G1 (5:28 ET)
1 Imagining 8-5
4 Twilight Eclipse 3-1
7 Dynamic Sky 5-1
6 Hardest Core 4-1
Analysis: Imagining is coming off a sharp win in the pan American (G2), which was his first victory since winning this race last year. The seven-year-old has won five of his 10 starts over the Belmont Park turf and is coming off a career top speed fig. He is perfect in two starts at this distance and looks capable of winning right back. The Shug barn has won this race three years in a row, with Point of Entry in 2012 and Boisterous in 2013.
Twilight Eclipse ran a game third last out in the Pan American, beaten 3/4 of a length for the top spot and missing the place spot by a head. Since his 12th in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) he has now lost eight races in a row, but he has been in the mix in just out every outing and has earned triple digit Beyers in five of his last six starts, earning a 99 in the other start. They were at equal weights in the Pan American and now this guy is getting six pounds.
Dynamic Sky made a good late rally over ground labeled as good at Keeneland in the Elkhorn (G2) missing by just a neck in a game effort at 1 1/2 miles. His last win came at today’s distance in the Red Smith Handicap (G3) last November at the Big A over yielding footing. It looks as if the Mark Casse trainee should get an honest pace to run at here.
WIN: #1 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 1,4 / 1,4,6,7
TRI: 1,4 / 1,4,6,7 / 1,2,4,6,7
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The second jewel of the Triple Crown will be run on Saturday May 16 at Pimlico. The big day of racing has seven supporting stakes including the $300,000 Dixie Stakes, $150,000 Gallorette Handicap and the $150,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap. Report will be available by Friday May 15.