Decisive favorite Domestic Spending (GB) did what was expected of him in the Grade 1, $750,000 Manhattan Stakes on June 5 at Belmont Park, roaring home to a 2 ¾-length victory to give trainer Chad Brown an unprecedented second three-peat in the prestigious 1 ¼-miles turf race.
The was Brown’s sixth Manhattan win in the past eight years, which is the annual prelude to the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, and is run on the inner turf course for older horses. The Mechanicville, N.Y. native also won three consecutive renewals from 2014 to 2016, and this recent feat was made even more extraordinary by the fact he has now saddled the first and second-finishers of the Manhattan the past three years.
“This has been an important race for us,” said Brown. “It’s such a great tradition, and to be run before the Belmont Stakes every year. It is one of the premier turf races for males at a classic distance in the country and I hold it in high regard. We point for it every year, and I’ve been so lucky, me and my team, to have some good horses through the years to work with.”
Like his trainer, Domestic Spending was also keeping a streak alive on Saturday. The son of Kingman entered the Manhattan having won three consecutive races, including a pair of Grade 1 events in his two most recent starts, having dead-heated with Colonel Liam to take the Grade 1 Turf Classic on May 1 at Churchill Downs in his 4-year-old debut.
Breaking from post 4 with Flavien Prat aboard again, Domestic Spending worked out a beautiful spot in midpack heading into the clubhouse turn as his stablemate Tribhuvan (FR) was gunned to the front by jockey Eric Cancel. Cancel and Tribhuvan barreled along early, carving out an opening quarter-mile in an honest :23.81 seconds before turning it up a notch down the backstretch, with the half going in :46.95 and three-quarters in 1:11.00 as the pair put daylight between them and the rest of the field.
Meanwhile, Prat and Domestic Spending bided their time while in the clear, perhaps in a deliberate effort to not have to rally through traffic as they did in the Turf Classic. The contrast in style became even more apparent around the far turn, when Prat angled him wider and wider on the course, to which the bay gelding responded kindly, sweeping up effortlessly to put himself within striking range by the time they turned for home.
By that point in the race Tribhuvan had maintained a sizable margin on his challengers and loomed a serious threat to wire the field, but Domestic Spending was relentless in his pursuit and collared his stablemate with plenty of time to spare in the cavernous Belmont stretch. More than two lengths to the good on the wire, Domestic Spending stopped the clock in a sparkling 1:59.08 over the good turf.
“He went a mile and a quarter well today,” said Prat. “He showed a good turn-of-foot last time and today, with the strong pace it’s hard to show the same turn of foot and he did. I think I had more in reserve. He was floating a little bit down the lane, but I felt that I had more horse.”
Owned by Klaravich Stables, who also teamed up with Brown to take the Grade 1 Acorn with Search Results earlier in the day, Domestic Spending notched his sixth victory from just seven career starts, with his lone blemish coming in last year’s Grade 2 Hall of Fame at Saratoga Race Course. The winner’s share of the purse of $400,000 bumped his bankroll to just over $1.3 million and he returned $5 to win on a $2 win wager.
“This horse has been a particular challenge,” said Brown. “We had to geld him after his 2-year-old year, even with that breeding, because he wouldn’t train. We had several different people on our team working with this horse, down at Stonestreet (in Kentucky) and down in Ocala. So many people have touched this horse and really worked with and got his natural ability out of him. The latest is Flavien, who is now getting along just terrific with this horse. It’s really my team. They’ve done an outstanding job developing this horse. There was a point in time when he was a baby that I didn’t think we’d ever get him to the races.”
A former French import owned in partnership by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael Caruso, Tribhuvan ran a gallant race in defeat to get second, checking in 1 ¼ lengths clear of the third-place finisher Gufo. After an unassuming start to his foray to the States in 2020, Tribhuvan has also taken his game to another level since being gelded at the beginning of 2021. He kicked off the year with a frontrunning score in the Grade 2 Fort Marcy over this course, which earned him a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 105, before crystallizing his improvement with another strong run in the Manhattan.
“My horse ran a great race,” said Cancel. “It was a wonderful performance. The instructions were to go to the lead and if you can take it, take it. I tried to work hard to get the win, but he got beat by the other horse. He still ran great. And I can’t take it away from him.
“I try to let him relax and put my hands down on him,” he added. “From there on, he was doing everything by himself. When I asked him, he picked it up. He just got beat by a better horse.”
The Christophe Clement-trained Gufo lagged behind the field early and put in a solid, sustained rally, but ultimately was left with too much to do in the stretch and had to settle for a minor award behind his nemesis Domestic Spending, who has now bested him on three occasions.