News and STORIES

Man O’ War Stakes Highlights a Great Saturday of Racing at Belmont Park

Author: Chris Adams
Published: Thursday May 06, 2021

The 2021 Man O’ War Stakes (G1) marks the start of a summer stakes season at NYRA that rivals many around the country. Leading up to the Man O’ War there are a host of other graded stakes at Belmont.

The Man O’ War is a grade 1 turf race at 11 furlongs and will feature a contentious field of the best turf routers in the country. This year’s field looks to feature a number of runners from rock star turf trainers like Michael Maker, Christophe Clement, and Chad Brown among others.

2021 Man O' War Stakes Details

The great chestnut horse Man O’ War was near perfect in his career. He finished with a final record of 20 wins in 21 starts with one second-place finish. Although the stake bearing his name is run on turf, Man O’ War excelled exclusively on dirt, never attempting a run on the grass.

The horse has a unique and storied past. He ran as a two-year-old in 1919 and started his career by winning 5 races in a span of just over a month. Compare that with the entries in this year’s contest in which have a combined 1 start in the last 30 days.

Despite unbelievable talent, the horse did not run in the Kentucky Derby as a three old based on a trainer's decision. However, during his three-year-old season, he defeated 1919 Triple Crown-winning Sir Barton in a match race by open lengths. His accomplishments during 1920 led to him being named co-athlete of the year with Babe Ruth.

Man O’ War was retired and went to stud in 1921. He would have continued racing if not for the record-breaking weights he would have been assigned in handicap races that season. His bloodline has gone on to produce many runners and future sires including Seabiscuit and Tiznow.

Significant Stories Heading into the Man O' War

The grade one turf season means that many of the top turf barns are likely to start heating up. This race features a number of the top turf trainers in the country who often point their best strings to the NYRA spring and summer meets.

The Contenders

#1 Sovereign: will be running in America for the first time. He ships over from Europe for dominant turf trainer Chad Brown. Brown is very effective with these first-time American runners and owns the turf circuit in the east the way Bob Baffert does with dirt runners in the west.

#2 Moon Over Miami: runs for Bill Mott who typically does really well with turf runners. However, this horse has been a bit underwhelming. He has only 2 victories to his name which include 1 listed stake. It seems like he might be in a bit deep here.

#3 Ziyad: is 0 for 2 in America after being a group 1 winner in France. The horse has finished 3rd in both American starts and goes out for H. Graham Motion who can at times take a few starts to get the horses fully cranked.

#4 So High (GB): has struggled in the US with only 1 victory in 7 starts. That win came in a claiming race which leaves a lot to be desired against a host of true graded stakes runners.

#5 Channel Cat: goes out for famous Kentucky connections in Calumet Farm and trainer Jack Sisterson. While this horse hasn’t won since 2019 the 2021 Elkhorn (G2) provided some hope as the horse finished second behind Say the Word.

#6 Shamrocket: is a Todd Pletcher trainee who is dead game, but struggles to find the winner’s circle. In each of his last 10 starts, he has hit the trifecta, but only has one win over that span. His win came at a level well below the caliber of today’s field.

#7 Field Pass: is a grade 3 winner of the Transylvania. The horse has a win in the last 6 months. It came on Woodbine’s synthetic surface which can often play more like grass than dirt. Mike Maker trains and he can be deadly at a price going long on the turf.

#8 Gufo: is trained by Christophe Clement and has won 4 of his 7 career starts including a grade 1 race on turf. The horse’s form was flattered by the great run Domestic Spending had at Churchill Downs in the Old Forester on Derby Day.

Using DHP Tools to Handicap the Race

Speed and Pace Bias

The speed and pace bias tool shows that horses designated “fast” or “fastest” have won 64% of turf routes longer than 8.5 furlongs.

50% of the winners have come been both designated as “fast” or “fastest” and as preferring to run as “leads” or “leaders”.