07/14/2010 5:23PM

Expansion earns his way into Man o' War


ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Chad Brown was very confident that Expansion was going to run a big race in last month’s Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap. His suspicions were proven correct when Expansion ran a bang-up third behind Winchester and Gio Ponti, beaten a total of 1 1/2 lengths.

Off that effort, Expansion has earned himself another shot at Grade 1 glory when he takes on Gio Ponti and six others in Saturday’s Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont Park. At $600,000 – which includes $100,000 in funding from the Breeders’ Cup – the Man o’ War is the second richest race at the meet, behind the $1 million Belmont Stakes.

When Expansion finished fourth in the Grade 2 Elkhorn at Keeneland in April, Brown felt the horse could have won the race had he not been buried along the rail. Cognizant of that, Brown instructed Javier Castellano to give Expansion a clear trip on the outside in the Manhattan. While he was wide throughout, Expansion closed well and finished a solid third, finishing ahead of eight others.

“He was wide the whole way, but that probably kept him out of trouble,” Brown said. “He ran huge. We were really happy with the effort. He seemed to come out of it in good shape. We’ll give him another shot in the Man o’ War.”

At 1 3/8 miles, the Man o’ War is run at the same distance as the Red Smith, a Grade 2 race Expansion won last fall at Aqueduct. Brown said he didn’t think the distance made that much of a difference to Expansion.

Javeir Castellano will ride Expansion from post 4.

Gio Ponti, who won last year’s Man o’ War en route to being crowned champion turf horse and champion older male, drew post 8 and will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez. Others entered include Grade 1 winners Grand Couturier and Interpatation, front-runners Mission Approved and Strike a Deal, and Kentucky shipper Bearpath.

The Man o’ War will be race 9 on a 10-race card.

‘Roses’ rematch possible in Ballerina

Rightly So and Qualia, separated by a head in Monday’s Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses Handicap, could meet again in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga on Aug. 28, their connections indicated on Wednesday.

Tony Dutrow, trainer of Rightly So, said both the Bed o’ Roses and the Vagrancy – a May 29 race in which Rightly So was beaten one-half length by Hour Glass – were both hard races on his filly and that he wouldn’t look to run her back “anytime soon.” However, with eight weeks to the Ballerina, that race could fit into her schedule.

“If she’s doing good that’s what we’ll do,” Dutrow said. “Rightly So is deserving of a chance.”

Rightly So, a New York-bred daughter of Read the Footnotes owned by Ahmed Zayat, has won 6 of 10 starts. Her four losses have come by a combined 1 3/4 lengths. She earned a 96 Beyer for her win on Monday.

Robert Ribaudo, the trainer of Qualia, was happy with how his filly ran competing in her first stakes race. Ribaudo said the Ballerina would give him an indication whether Qualia could be considered for a race such as the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs in November. Qualia has won 4 of 6 starts with her two losses coming by a head and a neck.

Hold That Prospect euthanized

Hold That Prospect, who rose from the claiming ranks to become a multiple stakes-winning mare, had to be euthanized on July 3 after developing a case of laminitis, according to trainer Gary Gullo.

“She had really, really bad feet and it was a nightmare all along to keep care of her feet,” Gullo said. “She ended up getting an infection, one thing led to another and it got worse and worse and worse and she ended up foundering.”

Gullo said the loss hit him particularly hard.

“Of all my years with the horses – and I’ve been around them since I was 10-years-old – I had maybe three horses I really fell in love with and she was one of them,” Gullo said. “She was so kind, and game. She gave you everything she had. I went home and cried the whole day.”

Hold That Prospect won 13 of 29 starts and earned $332,592 in her career. Claimed for $30,000 in March 2009 by the Funky Munky Stable, Hold That Prospect won six of her last 10 starts, including the Correction Stakes and the Mommy Dear, both over Aqueduct’s inner track. In her last start, she was eased by while finishing last in the Grade 2 Vagrancy at Belmont on May 29.

Jersey invader could take Friday feature

Monmouth Park’s big purses this summer may have lured some New York horses to the Jersey Shore, but it is a Monmouth-based horse who could steal the money here in Friday’s featured third-level allowance race at six furlongs.

Ocarson, trained by Butch Reid, comes out of a fifth-place finish, beaten only two lengths, in a similar race as this on June 4. It was the only time she finished worse than third. Reid said Ocarson came out of that race with 104-degree temperature.

“I’m not sure I didn’t run a sick horse,” Reid said. “She did run well if that was the case. She didn’t go to the track for eight or 10 days [afterward], but she seems to have come back well and had a nice little breeze the other day.”

Sneaky Girl, who finished second to Bed o’ Roses runner-up Qualia in this condition last out, is likely the horse to beat.

Right to Rule, Powder Princess, Miss Red Delicious, and Heaven’s Voice complete the field.