06/11/2012 3:15PM

Belmont Park: Desert Blanc being considered for Man o' War

Barbara D. Livingston
Desert Blanc (right) outfinishes Papaw Bodie to win Saturday’s Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap on the Belmont Stakes Day undercard.

ELMONT, N.Y. – All in all, it wasn’t a bad two hours late Saturday afternoon for trainer Chad Brown.

In that span, Brown sandwiched a Grade 1 victory in the Manhattan Handicap by Desert Blanc in between fourth-place finishes by Hardened Wildcat in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens and Street Life in the $1 million Belmont Stakes.

While this year’s Manhattan won’t go down as the toughest field ever assembled for the 1 1/4-mile turf race, Desert Blanc put in a solid performance, splitting horses in midstretch and outfinishing Papaw Bodie to win by a nose.

Desert Blanc, a 4-year-old Great Britain-bred son of Desert Style, was making just his seventh career start, second this year, and second in the United States.

Brown said this Manhattan “might look better down the road because Desert Blanc was in it. I’m very happy. He’s a very smart, solid, classy horse.”

Brown said Desert Blanc might have been compromised in the May 5 Fort Marcy by a slow start, yielding turf, and the fact that was his first race in seven months.

Desert Blanc had shown Brown in his training that he preferred firm footing, which is what he raced on primarily in France.

Brown said the Arlington Million, which like the Manhattan is run at 1 1/4 miles, is a race he would likely target with Desert Blanc. Initially, Brown thought about training him up to that race, but after watching the replay of the Manhattan again, Brown is now considering running Desert Blanc back in the Grade 1, $600,000 Man o’ War at Belmont, a 1 3/8 miles race July 14.

“He galloped out extremely well,” Brown said. “He was in a battle with Papaw Bodie, and that horse never passed him. Initially, I was thinking a mile and a quarter was as far as I’d want to go with him, but I want to take a look at the Man o’ War.”

Street Life eyes Jim Dandy, West Virginia Derby

Brown said “the gamblers had it right” when they made Street Life the fourth-betting choice in the Belmont Stakes. As the 9-1 fourth choice, Street Life finished fourth, beaten 7 1/2 lengths by Union Rags.

Brown said that Street Life was too far back early – he was last of 11 for the first six furlongs then 10th after Guyana Star Dweej was eased – before launching a bid.

“He found himself too far back, which was a little surprising with the blinkers,” Brown said. “But he made his move, and we were fourth best. I thought the top three ran very well. At the end of the day, we were fourth in the wagering when they loaded into the gate and we finished fourth.”

Brown is hoping that Street Life’s late kick will be more effective in shorter races and plans to look at the $500,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 28 or the $750,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer on Aug. 4 as possibilities. Street Life would not be considered for the Haskell at Monmouth on July 29, Brown said.

“I think what we need to do is shorten him back up to a mile and an eighth,” Brown said. “It’s long enough where he could get up in time to win, but short enough where the pace is there.”

Meanwhile, Hardened Wildcat finished fourth, beaten 4 1/4 lengths by Trinniberg in the Woody Stephens. Hardened Wildcat, last early on, got stalled behind a tiring Hierro in upper stretch, but came on again in the final furlong.

“He ran right up into a horse at the quarter pole, got stopped and had to alter course, and still got up for a piece,” Brown said.

The Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam going 6 1/2 furlong at Saratoga on July 29 is a possibility for Hardened Wildcat before he likely would face Woody Stephens 1-2 finishers Trinniberg and Currency Swap in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga on Aug. 25.