06/05/2013 3:46PM

Belmont Park: Soft turf in Manhattan won't deter Point of Entry

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Barbara D. Livingston
Although Point of Entry prefers firm turf, he owns a Grade 1 win on yielding ground.

ELMONT, N.Y. – After having scratched out of the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve due to less than firm turf, trainer Shug McGaughey said that Point of Entry would run in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Manhattan at Belmont Park regardless of course condition.

There is a forecast for rain Friday, carrying over into Saturday morning.

“Obviously, I’m a little concerned, but he’s going to run anyway,” McGaughey said Wednesday.

McGaughey said that 1 1/4 miles at Belmont is a different type of race than 1 1/8 miles at Churchill, where the Woodford Reserve was run.

“He was going to have to chase a little bit over that track and take him out of his game and a lot of times that’s when they get hurt,” McGaughey said. “Here, going a mile and a quarter, he’ll be able to hold it together a little bit better.”

Point of Entry is a multiple Grade 1 winner at Belmont, having won the Man o’ War and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational – the latter run over yielding turf last fall.

Point of Entry drew the rail for the Manhattan and will have to carry high weight of 124 pounds breaking from the rail under John Velazquez.

The Manhattan field includes Twilight Eclipse, who set a world record for 1 1/2 miles winning the Grade 2 Pan American at Gulfstream on March 23. He will break from post 8 under Javier Castellano.

The remainder of the field consists of Bombaguia, Optimizer, Plainview, Finnegans Wake, Real Solution, Side Road, Speaking of Which, and Quick Casablanca. Quick Casablanca is cross-entered in Friday’s Grade 2 Brooklyn at 1 1/2 miles on dirt.

Just a Game: Soft turf may help Hungry Island

While McGaughey will be the hunted with Point of Entry in the Manhattan, he will play the role of hunter in the Grade 1, $500,000 Just a Game for fillies and mares at one mile.

Hungry Island is coming off a good second in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill last out. Further, she is 3 for 6 at Belmont and did win the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga over yielding ground.

Hungry Island will break from the rail under Garret Gomez, who replaces Javier Castellano.

Castellano is named to ride Dayatthespa, who has won 7 of 10 starts, but whose worst race came in her only start over less than firm turf in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Course condition is a concern for Mike Puype, trainer of Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Mizdirection, who drew post 6. Stephanie’s Kitten, who beat Hungry Island in the Distaff Turf Mile, Centre Court, winner of the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley, and the European-based Laugh Out Loud complete the field.

Tons of speed in Woody Stephens

If you feel the need for speed, you’re going to need to watch the Grade 2, $400,000 Woody Stephens, which drew an extremely quick field of 3-year-old sprinters.

Among the swiftest of the group is Let Em Shine, who shipped in from Southern California following a dominant win in the Came Home Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park. Let Em Shine drew the outside post in the 11-horse field.

Directly to his inside is Merit Man, who hasn’t run since finishing third in the Florida Derby and now shortens up to seven furlongs.

Zee Bros, winner of the Chick Lang at Pimlico, Retreive, and Salutos Amigos also are front-running types entered in the Woody Stephens.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has a pair of off-the pace runners in Forty Tales and Capo Bastone, the 1-2 finishers in the Derby Trial. Declan’s Warrior, Tenango, Clearly Now, and Honorable Dillon also should appreciate a hot pace.

A rematch in True North

Caixa Eletronica ran down Justin Phillip in a thrilling renewal of last year’s Grade 2, $400,000 True North, and the two will tee it up again as the protagonists in Saturday’s seven-horse field.

Caixa Eletronica will break from post 6, while Justin Phillip drew the rail. Justin Phillip will be coupled in the wagering with Fast Bullet, who is in post 4. Both horses are owned by Zayat Stable.

Laurie’s Rocket, Reload, Off the Jak, and Sage Valley complete the field.

Power Broker comes for Easy Goer

Power Broker, a Grade 1 winner in 2012, is entered in Saturday’s $150,000 Easy Goer Stakes for trainer Bob Baffert. Power Broker won a first-level allowance race over a sloppy track at Churchill in May after being held out of the Kentucky Derby.

The remainder of the field for the Easy Goer, run at 1 1/16 miles, consists of Always in a Tiz, Puget Sound, Doherty, New Line, Eton Blue, Micromanage, Wabbajack, and Irsaal.

Perl More than 1 year ago
Snakebit by the rain! Glad Shug will leave POE in (no Wise Dan...hmm), but I figure the Just A Game is going to turn into a 5-horse race, as both Mizdirection and Dayatthespa could scratch.
Diego AH More than 1 year ago
The Just a Game looks like the best race by far. The Manhattan, kind of weak.
Francisco Pannaci More than 1 year ago
Do the competitors of Point of Entry in the Manhattan belong or don't belong ?
jay More than 1 year ago
Just like I thought...Shug was afraid to run against Wise Dan in the Woodford Reserve. He's starting to get annoying with his disingenuous, self-serving comments.
B More than 1 year ago
He was doing what was best for his horse as he always will. I've never seen Shug afraid of any confrontation and what you have to say is terribly insulting to one of the great horsemen in the business and to a very good, possibly great turf horse. I think Wise Dan is a terrific miler, but nothing more and his owners don't seem to want to prove he can do anything more than that. I try not to get into nasty barbs on this site, but it is you who is the one that is being annoying.
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
The overriding reason that Point of Entry was scratched out of the Woodford Reserve was the presence of Wise Dan, a formidable opponent that Point of Entry would have to chase. There's no such competition in the Manhattan which is why he will run regardless of any going conditions. To state the above, which is quite obvious, is to be upfront. To say what McGaughey said is to be political, in other words, disingenuous and self-serving.
Joe Rockhold More than 1 year ago
Totally disagree!
Joe Rockhold More than 1 year ago
Totally agree.
Wonderagain More than 1 year ago
He was afraid the horse would get hurt chasing Wise Dan over soft turf course. What's disingenuous, self-serving about that? What an annoying comment. Though, not as annoying as the rain forecast for Fri-Sat.
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
The overriding reason that Point of Entry was scratched out of the Woodford Reserve was the presence of Wise Dan, a formidable opponent that Point of Entry would have to chase. There's no such competition in the Manhattan which is why he will run regardless of any going conditions. To state the above, which is quite obvious, is to be upfront. To say what McGaughey said is to be political, in other words, disingenuous and self-serving.
Rafael Acosta More than 1 year ago
Thank you Jay for pointing out the obvious!
spicetruck More than 1 year ago
You are spot on.. I was wondering why the article did not even mention that Wise Dan ran and won the Woodford reserve even on soft turf.. Shug definitely scratched, but for him to say that this track is different etc is blah blah. i just hope all horses come home safe after the race!
Perl More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't agree that Shug is disingenuous or self-serving, but I would agree that he was afraid to run against Wise Dan in those conditions. His comments regarding his decision to run in this race but not that race don't really hold much water under scrutiny.
Rafael Acosta More than 1 year ago
Hopefully Shug leaves POE in this time.
Kevin More than 1 year ago
Great races on paper - I hope the rain doesn't lead to alot of scratches . . .
Peter Siipola More than 1 year ago
We can on;y hope