Belmont’s Man o’ War Racing Festival features 4 graded stakes
By NY Hot List Staff
The Kentucky Derby may be a thing of the past but rest assured it will be discussed for decades to come.
Was it a foul? Or wasn’t it a foul.
Regardless of where you check in on the disqualification of Maximum Security, it was a day filled with intense drama.
Unfortunately, with Maximum Security and Country House, who was declared the winner, both sitting out the Preakness, it will be a while before the 3-year-old set heats up again.
In the meantime, the arrival of May means the 2019 racing scene is in full swing so there’s some superb racing at hand, including Saturday’s Man o’ War Racing Festival at Belmont Park.
In this instance, there will be four graded stakes sprinkled throughout an 11-race card at Beautiful Belmont.
The action even starts right away, with the Vagrancy Handicap, a $200,000 sprint stakes for fillies and mares, kicking off the card as the first race.
The main event will be the $700,000 Man o’ War Stakes, a 1 3/8-mile Grade 1 grass stakes that will bring together horses from two of the top turf trainers in the world, Europe’s Aidan O’Brien and New York’s own Chad Brown.
Shipping in from Europe will be a pair of horses trained by Aidan O’Brien and owned by Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith.
Heading that duo is Magic Wand, a 4-year-old filly who was second to Bricks and Mortar, who is trained by Brown, in the $6.7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf.
Since then she was fifth in the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic behind the Japanese star Almond Eye.
Magic Wand, the 5-2 second choice in the morning line, closed out 2018 by finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs.
Hunting Horn (10-1) also raced on Pegasus World Cup Day, finishing third in the William McKnight Stakes. The international traveler has raced twice since then, finishing fourth in the Dubai Sheema. Before then, he grabbed third in the H.H. The Emir’s Trophy at Doha Feb. 23
“The two of them traveled in well. They’re in good shape. They had a ride around the barn this morning and hopefully we’ll get out on the track Thursday morning,” said T.J. Comerford, an assistant trainer for O’Brien, earlier this week. “It didn’t go to plan in Dubai, but they’ve run well when they came over here.”
Brown will send out Focus Group, winner of the Pan American Stakes by a nose in his first 2019 start.
The 5-year-old horse, pegged as the 5-2 favorite, has won three of his last four starts. He closed out 2018 by finishing third in the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine.
The field of nine also includes Zulu Alpha, who beat Hunting Horn in the McKnight. Following that half-length victory, he won the Mac Diarmida Stakes and was third most recently in the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland.
The 11-race card also includes the Peter Pan for 3-year-olds, a prep race for the Belmont Stakes, and the Beaugay, a turf stakes for fillies and mares.