07/07/2010 12:00AM

Expansion earns Man o' War berth

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Expanson is among eight horses entered in Saturday?s 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.

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.