Kaigun and Wake Forest Renew Rivalry in Man o’ War

Belmont Park

The main event on Saturday’s stakes-packed card at Belmont Park is the $400,000 Man o’ War Stakes (GIT), a prep for the $1 million Manhattan Handicap (GIT) in four weeks, and nine talented older turfers will race the 1 3/8 miles over Belmont’s lawn, including Kaigun and Wake Forest, the 1-2 finishers in the Pan American Handicap at Gulfstream Park last month.

Kaigun beats edges Wake Forest in the Pan American Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Kaigun beats edges Wake Forest in the Pan American Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Wake Forest drew the far outside coming off his runner-up finish last time out and will try to turn the tables on his chief rival in here. The good news for the multiple Group III winner (in Germany) is that he’ll likely get the soft turf he seems so fond of and, since he probably prefers even more distance than today’s feature, should have little trouble in that department. He’s a later-running type, but doesn’t necessarily need a quick pace to close into, and can only benefit from having jockey John Velazquez aboard, a rider who knows the Belmont grass better than any other. He’s been training very well for Chad Brown in New York for the past few weeks and has found a good spot to earn his first North American victory if he can get to the wire before running out of ground.

Kaigun won the Pan American before his runner-up finish in the Elkhart Stakes (GIIT) at Keeneland three weeks ago. The Mark Casse trainee always has been productive in the grassy marathons over his career, including four consecutive second-place finishes in graded stakes last year, but hasn’t been able to breakthrough to the top. However, he finally seems to be rounding into top form at age six. The Northern Afleet gelding consistently posts solid speed figures and when he’s right, he’s right. Though he’s never won at this distance, he’s been successful at even longer distances, so a perfectly timed ride from mid-pack from regular jockey Joe Bravo may be all he’ll need to make it to the wire in front.



Morandi is another runner from the powerful Chad Brown stable and though the French Group 3 winner hasn’t won in a while, he’s had excuses, including a troubled fifth-place finish last out in a Keeneland allowance race. This may be a good spot for the son of Holy Roman Emperor to reach the winner’s circle in his third North American appearance.

Peter Vegso’s homebred Go Around has won half of his eight career turf starts for Hall of Famer Bill Mott and though takes a step up in class after winning a non-graded stakes at Tampa Bay Downs last out at nine furlongs, should appreciate the added distance, especially after winning a ten-furlong allowance over this same course nearly a year ago.

Up With the Birds runs in all the big races and earns some minor awards, but hasn’t won in a while and is in tough if he expects to return to the winner’s circle here.

Closing Bell is another one who earns minor awards, but his best here may earn him a large share of the pot.

Can’thelpbelieving, though trained by top conditioner Graham Motion, appears to be better suited to non-graded or allowance events.

Money Multiplier, a third from the Brown barn, won a first-level allowance last time out and is loaded with potential, but may need more experience to beat the top runners in here.

Biz the Nurse had some success in Italian group events but hasn’t raced in nearly a year and may need a start.

The Man o’ War is expected to break from the gate at 6:17 p.m. ET.

Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.

She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law known as the “Borell Law.”

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, two Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.

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