07/10/2013 3:30PM

Belmont Park: Optimizer to go long in Man o’ War

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Tom Keyser
Optimizer has won at 1 3/16 miles and will now try the 1 3/8 miles of the Man o’ War.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Coming off a solid second-place finish in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day, Optimizer is back for a return engagement in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Man o’ War Stakes, the final graded event of the spring/summer meet.

In the Manhattan, Optimizer finished a game second behind heavily favored Point of Entry, who emerged from that race with a hind cannon bone fracture. In his place in the Man o’ War for the Phipps Stable and trainer Shug McGaughey is the improving Boisterous. Others entered in the eight-horse field include Al Khali, Finnegans Wake, Speaking of Which, Twilight Eclipse, Folk Singer, and Exclusive Strike.

Optimizer, who will be ridden by Joel Rosario, will break from the rail.

Optimizer is a five-time winner, having been successful up to 1 3/16 miles in an allowance race at Saratoga last summer. The Man o’ War is run at 1 3/8 miles.

“I think he can run that far,” trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. “That’s always a questionable distance for any horse, but I think he’ll be okay. He’s a very competitive, tough horse, also.”

Though Optimizer has run well on less-than-firm ground, Lukas said he believes the horse is better on firm turf.

The forecast for Saturday calls for dry conditions and less humidity, but thunderstorms – a significant one came through here on Wednesday afternoon – were possible into Thursday.