06/07/2012 9:32AM

Belmont: Manhattan could be start of big year for Boisterous

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Trainer Shug McGaughey is hopeful the Manhattan begins Boisterous's quest to reach the Breeders' Cup Turf this fall.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Boisterous had a big year in 2011, concluding the campaign with victories in the Grade 2 Red Smith and Grade 3 Knickerbocker. Trainer Shug McGaughey is confident the improving Boisterous is capable of having an even better season in 2012.

Boisterous will return to Grade 1 company for the first time in 10 months as one of the favorites in Saturday’s $500,000 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park. A Phipps Stable homebred, Boisterous enters the 1 1/4-mile turf stakes having won three of his last four starts, his lone loss during that span coming in his 2012 debut this past winter at Gulfstream Park.

Boisterous bounced back from that setback with a one length victory over Desert Blanc at Belmont in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy. Desert Blanc will be among the competition again in a well-matched Manhattan lineup that also includes Hudson Steele, Brilliant Speed, Al Khali, Omayad, Papaw Bodie, and Top Surprize.

“He had a good race in the Fort Marcy and a mile and one-sixteenth is probably not his bag,” said McGaughey. “So I feel pretty good coming back Saturday at a mile and one-quarter.”

Boisterous is perfect in two previous starts at 10 furlongs.

McGaughey steered clear of the Breeders’ Cup a year ago with Boisterous but has his eyes set on the big prize, the Turf, later this season.

“I kind of got sidetracked and backed up with him a little last summer, which kept us from considering the Breeders’ Cup. But he finished the year up strong,” said McGaughey. “This year the Breeders’ Cup is our goal and if we do go it will be in the Turf. The mile race would go too fast for him.”

Brilliant Speed concluded his outstanding 3-year-old campaign finishing third behind St Nicholas Abbey and Silent Moon in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf and like McGaughey, trainer Tom Albertrani is looking for an even better year from Brilliant Speed as a 4-year-old. Brilliant Speed, who also finished third in the Belmont Stakes on dirt, is coming off a third-place finish behind a loose-on-the lead Little Mike in the 1 1/8-mile Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and Albertrani is hoping his colt will have a little more pace to run at in the Manhattan.

That pace could come from Hudson Steele, who has captured four of his last five starts, dating back to the summer of 2010, a streak that includes a pair of easy victories earlier this spring at Pimlico following a one-year layoff.

“He’s had some issues with a hind leg and we’ve had to stop on him a couple of times,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “It’s healed up well and so far he’s training great and running well. I think this is another step up off a step up before that. He seems to be in good form and I hope we can just keep clicking them over.”

Pletcher acknowledged the fact that Hudson Steele figures to be close up if not the one to catch in the Manhattan under Javier Castellano.

“I think he’ll be forwardly placed, possibly even on the lead,” said Pletcher. “I’ll just kind of leave that to Javier.”

Al Khali finished far back after stumbling at the start of the Turf Classic. He ran an even fourth in the 2011 Manhattan but rebounded last summer to be Grade 1-placed on a couple of occasions while finishing third in the Sword Dancer and Northern Dancer, both 1 1/2-mile races.

Desert Blanc turned in a big effort making his U.S. debut in the Fort Marcy, gaining the lead in early stretch before being outgamed to the wire by Boisterous. The added distance should be a plus for the English-bred Desert Blanc, who won his maiden and also finished a troubled third against Group 3 opposition going 1 1/4 miles last year in France.


Woodford Reserve Manhattan H. (G1), Post Time: 5:37 ET Saturday

Purse: $500,000; 1 1/4 miles (T)





ML Odds


Omayad (CHI)

N. Drysdale

J. Rosario




C. McGaughey, III

A. Garcia



Al Khali

W. Mott

M. Smith



Desert Blanc (GB)

C. Brown

R. Dominguez



Papaw Bodie

M. Maker

R. Napravnik



Brilliant Speed

T. Albertrani

J. Velazquez



Hudson Steele

T. Pletcher

J. Castellano



Top Surprize

N. Chatterpaul

J. Espinoza