How to bet the 2019 Manhattan Stakes
Trainer Chad Brown seems to be throwing the kitchen sink at Saturday’s $1 million Manhattan Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park, where he's entered four graded stakes winners in a quest to extend his domination of the 1 1/4-mile race.The Manhattan is one of eight grade 1 races scheduled to be run at Belmont on Belmont Stakes Day, and Brown will be tough to beat. The Eclipse Award-winning trainer has won the Manhattan four times since 2012 and appears to hold a quantity and quality stranglehold on the top contenders for the 2019 renewal.
Leading Brown’s charge is #8 Bricks and Mortar, a 5-year-old with four straight victories under his belt. The son of Giant’s Causeway has been sensational since he returned from a long layoff in December of 2018 and has already used his powerful turn of foot to record impressive victories in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) and the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1). In the latter Bricks and Mortar had to wait for running room and seemed too far back at the top of the stretch to challenge, but rallied relentlessly down the lane to win by a comfortable half-length.
Bricks and Mortar’s strong suit has long been his ability to finish fast. Even as a 3-year-old he was able to unleash bursts of acceleration to overcome poor setups in slow-paced races. Just look as his performance two starts back in the Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2) at Fair Grounds. After being compromised by a slow pace, he sprinted the final furlong in :11 1/5 (about as fast as you’ll ever see over the Fair Grounds turf) to win by a nose.
Bricks and Mortar has never negotiated 1 1/4 miles, but the way he finished going 1 3/16 miles in the Pegasus World Cup Turf bodes well for his ability to stretch out in the Manhattan. He should also appreciate racing over Belmont’s very firm inner turf course, which might be preferable to the deeper, slower courses he’s encountered as of late.
I’m expecting Bricks and Mortar to win again in the Manhattan, especially since he’s drawn outside and should work out a clean trip. But he could potentially face a challenge from his stablemate #3 Robert Bruce, who lost this race by just a length last year despite never having any racing room down the homestretch.
Robert Bruce sandwiched that defeat between eye-catching victories in the Fort Marcy Stakes (G3) and the Arlington Million (G1). In the Million, Robert Bruce unleashed a furious finish to gain five lengths in the final furlong and beat his grade 1-winning stablemate Almaanar by a half-length.
Robert Bruce has lost his three starts since then, but two were held over 1 1/2 miles (probably longer than he prefers) and all three came over rain-soaked courses, which also seem less than ideal for the Chilean-bred. The return to firm turf might be all he needs to rebound, and as we saw in the Arlington Million, Robert Bruce can compete at a very high level on his best day.
I’ll primarily play Bricks and Mortar on top in the trifecta while keying Robert Bruce underneath, but I’ll also add a backup ticket with Robert Bruce on top:
$3 trifecta: 8 with 3 with 4,6,7,10 ($12) $3 trifecta: 8 with 4,6,7,10 with 3 ($12) $1.50 trifecta: 3 with 8 with 4,6,7,10 ($6)