07/04/2017 6:29PM

Bricks and Mortar turns it on late to win Manila Stakes


ELMONT, N.Y. - Despite a slow pace and having to alter course in midstretch, Bricks and Mortar unleashed an electric turn of foot in the final furlong to complete a last-to-first neck victory in Tuesday’s $100,000 Manila Stakes at Belmont Park.

Bricks and Mortar defeated Big Handsome, the 3-5 favorite, who couldn’t get out of traffic in time and had to settle for second, a head in front of Secretary At War. It was another three-quarters of a length back to Holiday Stone in fourth. He was followed by Kitten’s Cat, Dover Cliffs, and Harlan’s Harmony.

The win was the third in as many starts for Bricks and Mortar, a son of Giant’s Causeway owned by Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence and trained by Chad Brown. The loss was the first in four turf tries for Big Handsome, who was coming off a victory in the Paradise Creek.

Bricks and Mortar was last of seven behind pacesetter Secretary At War, who got clear through a quarter in 23.98 seconds and a half-mile in 47.98 under John Velazquez. Big Handsome actually broke on top, but was reined in by Javier Castellano and sat third along the inside with Kitten’s Cat to his outside.

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Rosario had Bricks and Mortar along the inside and behind Big Handsome in the stretch. Castellano said that he was going to take Big Handsome to the outside, but that Holiday Stone lugged in when he switched leads, prompting Castellano to take Big Handsome back to the inside.

With the inside spot taken, Rosario got Bricks and Mortar into the four path past the eighth pole. Once in the clear, Bricks and Mortar accelerated past the four horses in front of him to get the victory.

Bricks and Mortar covered the mile in 1:33.12 and returned $8.60 as the second choice.

“Turning for home I was thinking stay inside and save a little ground, and maybe go from there,” Rosario said. “Hopefully, they were going to split a little bit and I could get through there. I was just looking forward to when I turned him loose being in the clear. He really put in a nice run. He can really finish.”

Assistant trainer Cherie DeVaux said she was impressed with Bricks and Mortar given his inexperience.

“For him being so lightly raced and having such a slow pace to close into, he ran really professionally,” DeVaux said.

Though Big Handsome was fast enough to be on the lead, Castellano said he felt taking him off the pace would give him a better chance to get the mile distance. Also, he didn’t want to get into a duel with Secretary At War, who he felt would be sent to the lead by Velazquez.

“I tried to do the right thing, ride a smart race, save all the ground and try to explode, and he did,” Castellano said. “I didn’t have the best scenario to go forward. That, unfortunately, was bad luck and that’s why I got beat. I believe I was on the best horse. If I was able to split horses from the quarter pole to the eighth pole, it would have been the best ride in the world.”

It’s possible Bricks and Mortar and Big Handsome could meet again in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 14.