Updated on 06/09/2012 8:25PM

Belmont Park: Desert Blanc outduels Papaw Bodie in Manhattan Handicap

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Jusin N. Lane
Desert Blanc (right) battles with Papaw Bodie in the stretch on his way to victory in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Desert Blanc benefited from a perfectly judged ride by Ramon Dominguez, then dug in tenaciously in deep stretch to outgame hard-luck loser Papaw Bodie by a nose to capture Saturday's $500,000 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park.

Desert Blanc, a 4-year-old son of Desert Style, was making only his second start in the United States after beginning his career in France. He was purchased privately for the partnership of Swift Thoroughbreds and Mackie Racing following the conclusion of his 3-year-old campaign and turned over to trainer Chad Brown. who did not get him to the races until his second-place finish behind Boisterous in last month's Grade 3 Ft. Marcy.

[BELMONT DAY: Full stakes results and video replays]

Desert Blanc was reserved within easy striking distance  by Dominguez while saving ground throughout. He had to await racing room entering the stretch and again upon settling into the stretch, ultimately found a seam between rivals near midstretch, ran down Hudson Steele, then held hold off a final surge from Papaw Bodie while appearing to brush several times with that rival approaching the wire.

Papaw Bodie stalked Hudson Steele's relatively slow  pace under jockey Rosie Napravnik, briefly dropped back about a length off the leader near the eighth pole before re-asserting himself in late stretch to just fail in a courageous effort.   

Boisterous raced near the rear of the pack while kept wide, rallying belatedly to finish third. He was followed by Hudson Steele, Brilliant Speed, a troubled Al Khali who steadied sharply along the hedge at the top of the stretch, and Omayad.

Desert Blanc completed 1 1/8 miles over a firm course in 1:59.65 and returned $14.80.

"Terrific ride by Ramon, saved all the ground," said  Brown, who had lost much of his voice from rooting Desert Blanc home through the stretch. "This horse seemed like he was sitting on a big race. He was training well over the turf course. Peter Bradley deserves a ton of credit for this. He picked the horse out in France and was adamant about buying him. He tried several times to buy this horse, and he finally got the deal done."

Brown said the Arlington Million would likely be the next goal for Desert Blanc.

"We always had the Arlington Million in mind when we bought this horse, and that's probably what we'll shoot for," said Brown.