06/08/2013 5:55PM

Belmont Park: Odds-on Point of Entry shows class winning Manhattan following layoff

Barbara D. Livingston
Point of Entry, with John Velazquez up, wins the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Showing courage under fire despite less than optimal circumstances, Point of Entry fought his way to victory in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park.

Point of Entry was re-routed to the Manhattan after being scratched from the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs five weeks ago due to soft turf, and was thus making his first start since beating Animal Kingdom four months ago, and his second since finishing an unlucky second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Another crack at the Turf is the ultimate goal for Point of Entry, and he now appears set up nicely for the second half of the season, after notching his fifth Grade 1 victory for the Phipps Stable and Shug McGaughey, who previously won the Manhattan with Good Reward (2005) and Dancing Forever (2008).

[BELMONT STAKES DAY: Video replays and race results]

Point of Entry’s Grade 1 tallies have now been delivered at four different distances, but this one wasn’t a walk around Belmont Park by any means, because Optimizer, who relishes boggy going, ran the race of his life in defeat for D. Wayne Lukas; and Real Solution also ran big in his second United States start for Chad Brown.

Optimizer patiently raced closest to 23-1 early leader Plainview through early fractions of 23.82 seconds, 48.27, and 1:12.94 and readily took command on the far turn.

Point of Entry, taken to the outside by John Velazquez entering the backstretch, moved to contention at the quarter pole and pounced upon Optimizer for the stretch run, only to be joined from the outside by Real Solution, who had swung out gathering a full head of steam into the lane.

Not to be denied, Point of Entry put a head in front of Optimizer from between horses at the eighth pole, and he was going away late to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

 “We all know that this type of course is not his favorite, but every time you ask him to run, he gives you everything he has,” said Velazquez. “It’s really nice to be able to ride these kind of horses. Sometimes it looks like he’s not going anywhere, but he’s running hard. He’s so big it takes him a long time to get going, but he still runs his heart out.”

Optimizer saved the place beneath Joel Rosario by a neck over Real Solution.

“He ran really well,” said Rosario. “He kept fighting. We were just second best. Point of Entry is probably the best horse on the turf right now.”

It was better than six lengths back to Finnegans Wake in fourth. Twilight Eclipse, Plainview, Side Road and Bombaguia completed the order of finish.

Point of Entry shouldered top weight of 124 pounds, giving away five to 11 pounds. A 5-year-old homebred by Dynaformer, Point of Entry ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.55 over an inner turf courses labeled yielding, and paid $3.10 to win as the overwhelming choice.

“For a horse who’s only run one time since last November, carrying 124 pounds, I think it was probably starting to tell on him a little bit the last eighth, the last sixteenth of a mile,” said McGaughey. “As I told Johnny today, ‘It’s going to be a grind for this horse today.’ Soft turf…we missed a race…I’m very, very proud of what I saw today. He’s a very, very good horse.”





Jordan More than 1 year ago
Bummer news about PoE. So much for the turf deivision being the strongest since 1993-94(Lure, Kotashaan, Star of Cozzene, Bien Bien, Paradise Creek, Fraise).
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
Just watched interview on PoE's injury. He fractured his condylar in left hind cannon bone in yesterday's race. DrBramlage is awaiting horse arrival for surgery. Sending up prayers for PoE and his full recovery.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
And Thanks to the Horse who always gives his all. Gonna be some nice little P.O.E's running around out there.
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
Hi Chad. Nice to see you. One of our true troopers is PoE. He never complained and won his race. Little PoEs - maybe later. He could make it back ala Little Mike.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
The turf divisions in North America might be as strong as they've been for a number of years. Wise Dan, who already owns 6 grade 1 wins, and Point of Entry, who owns 5, are absolutely world class at their respective distances, 8-9 furlongs for Wise Dan and 10-12 furlongs for Point of Entry. Throw in 3-time gr.1 winner Little Mike, and the Euros will need to bring their absolute best if they want to win the Breeders Cup. The picture isn't nearly as pretty out West, as reflected in a drab renewal of the downgraded Whittingham. Acclamation, a 6-time grade 1 winner and Eclipse champion, was rumored to be returning after a season of stud, but he sports no workouts. The best distance turf male to run this year out West has been Bright Thought, but he has been sidelined and has yet to start working again. If either returns 100%, they would help round out a strong North American team for the BC.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Well said... No knock on him but Dan's a miler til he proves different. Come Breeders Cup Day let's see where he's entered.
jay More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan is only a miler? He beat Optimizer easily at a mile and an eighth in the Woodford Reserve on turf. He won the Clark Handicap on the dirt at the same 9 furlongs, and set the track record on the Keeneland polytrack in the Ben Ali Stakes, also at a mile and an eighth. I think he's proven different.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
While Optimizer's a tough Horse, he's not Gr1 by any means. His record shows 3Gr3 wins his NX1 and his Mdn. He did run the race of his life Saturday but let's see where Mr Fink and Trainer LoPresti enter Dan in November.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
There's not a 9 furlong race for Wise Dan to enter in the Breeder's Cup. If the Classic was at 9 furlongs with its $5 million purse, I can almost guarantee he would run there. But since the choice is between 8 furlongs on turf and 10 furlongs on dirt, he'll go in the BC Mile. That doesn't mean he can't run beyond a mile. He is proven at 9 furlongs, but there are no 9 furlong races for males at the BC.
jttf More than 1 year ago
did stephanie's kitten have a bigger beyer than point of entry ? hey shug, i think that track was labeled yielding. it was also labeled "no wise dan".
Jason Beides More than 1 year ago
hey joel ever heard of a horse named WISE DAN????????????????????????
jay More than 1 year ago
Does anyone still think POE could have beaten Wise Dan in the Woodford Reserve? Wise Dan made Optimizer look like an allowance horse.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
POE would crush WD going 9 on a firm turf surface.This horse is no jokeHe has speed to rate and He's the best turf horse going 9-12 as shown when he beat AK at Gulfstream
jay More than 1 year ago
They're both great horses, but I think Wise Dan would beat POE up to 9 furlongs on any surface.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
I take Wise Dan, for the mere fact that he can run better on off turf. They both were set to run 9 furlongs, POE scratched, Wise Dan ran and crushed. Sure, the course came up soggy, but that's turf racing back East. Off tracks are not uncommon. I dislike it when people have to qualify their hypothetical matchup by specifying a condition, such as who would win on "firm turf". The weather can't be controlled. The better question is in a series of races at 9 furlongs on turf, who would win more. And since scratching is basically defaulting, this would have to include some off turf races. I wouldn't want the horse that would need to be scratched and have its schedule changed or the horse that would see its performance drop off considerably on an off course.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Good good ride aboard a great horse. On to the rest of the year.
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
Loved PoE all last year. Congrats to him, Johnny V and all the connections.