06/06/2013 11:59AM

Manhattan Handicap: Soft turf, long layoff are questions for Point of Entry


ELMONT, N.Y. – Looming a universal single in the $1 million-guaranteed pick six and pick four, Point of Entry makes his first start since beating Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom four months ago and will be no better than 3-5 to garner his fifth Grade 1 title in Saturday’s $500,000 Manhattan Handicap.

The Manhattan is the 10th of 13 races, with post time set for 5:40 p.m. Eastern.

After scratching out of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic late afternoon of Kentucky Derby Day due to unsuitably soft course conditions, Point of Entry will run in Saturday’s 1 1/4-mile Manhattan come rain or shine, according to trainer Shug McGaughey.

With a forecast that called for a 90 percent chance of rain Friday and lingering showers into early Saturday, Mother Nature apparently has it in for Point of Entry, who shoulders top weight of 124 pounds and gives away 5 to 11 pounds to his nine opponents.

“It was a mile and an eighth on soft turf there, so I have no problems about what I did,” McGaughey said. “A mile and a quarter at Belmont isn’t like a mile and an eighth at Churchill. If we had run at Churchill, we wouldn’t have run Saturday. We would have run in the Man o’ War, then the Arlington Million, [Joe Hirsch] Turf Classic, and the Breeders’ Cup. The main objective is the Breeders’ Cup. When we didn’t run at Churchill, we needed to run in the Manhattan because we needed to run.”

[BELMONT STAKES: Live updates and video from Belmont Park]

When Point of Entry runs, he is among the best and most versatile grass horses to come along in many a year. The question is simply whether he is ready to fire on all cylinders after having run just once since a tough-trip second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf seven months ago.

“I’ll tell you one thing, there isn’t a horse on the grounds training any better than him,” said McGaughey, who also has Reload in the True North and Orb in the Belmont Stakes. “He’s fresh. You can ask [exercise rider] Jenn [Patterson]. I was laughing at her [Wednesday] morning because she had all she could handle. He’s about as good as a horse can get.”

The only other graded stakes winners in the field are Twilight Eclipse, a dual Grade 2 winner at 1 1/2 miles; Optimizer, a three-time Grade 3 winner at distances up to 1 1/8 miles with an affinity for boggy going; Speaking of Which, a Group 3 winner in his native Ireland; and Quick Casablanca, a Group 1 winner on dirt in Argentina.

Twilight Eclipse, a mere $1,000 yearling buy, won Calder’s W.L. McKnight to conclude his 3-year-old season for Tom Albertrani. The 4-year-old Twilight Eclipse makes his first start since a decisive triumph in the Pan American on March 23, for which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 100, the only triple-digit figure in the race besides the four posted by Point of Entry.

“We’re excited to get him back on track,” Albertrani said. “We gave him a break between the Pan American and the Manhattan because we know he’s a horse that wants to run in these longer races. We wanted to freshen him up for a summer campaign.”

Likely pacesetter Plainview is in on a wing and a prayer after a career-best effort to wire preliminary allowance foes at 1 1/16 miles for Greg DiPrima.

Bombaguia, who led to the final strides of the Bowling Green on this same inner course last fall, will likely get first run at the longshot leader, after finishing an unlucky second in the Fort Marcy.

“He should have won by a mile,” trainer John Kimmel said. “He got stopped three times. He went inside. He went outside. It was hard to watch, and it was just off the track record. This is his third race on the form cycle. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do this year.”

Don Thomson More than 1 year ago
Funny, I dont see Wise Dan listed anywhere in the entries for this race. 5 weeks since his last start, but I dont see anyone accusing Lopresti of ducking POE If Wise dan is the superhorse everyone says he is, why doesnt Lopresti try stretching him out another 1/8 of a mile.
ziskokid1 . More than 1 year ago
Doesn't have to.
matt More than 1 year ago
Marketing Mix also scratched earlier in the day due to turf conditions. I guess they were just ducking Stephanie's Kitten, right?
Perl More than 1 year ago
Marketing Mix is an extremely consistent mare who ran her one poor race of 2012 on the heavy going at CD. Tell me, do you think POE would have scratched on Derby Day if Wise Dan wasn't in the race?
Perl More than 1 year ago
Why do people freak out when others claim Shug ducked Wise Dan? It's entirely plausible. He realized in those conditions that Wise Dan with his tactical speed had a huge advantage and so he saved his star for another day. Anyway, POE won at BEL last year in a bog over a decent horse in Treasure Beach. I will probably just watch the show pool to see if the bridgejumpers are out and then take a logical other horse to hit the board (Bombaguia perhaps) in case POE doesn't feel like running.
Dave More than 1 year ago
Shug was scared of Wise Dan but not Animal Kingdom? Right. I'd love to catch a price in the Pick 4 against POE, but I just don't see a horse with the class to beat him.
Micahdog More than 1 year ago
No one even remotely sees # 9 Finnegans Wake slipped inhere with $ 10,000 supplementary fee..............over came traffic and finiahed in 22.1 with 7 lbs off . Dale Roman's heating up finally. Finnegan would've have inside fractions under 24 flat if not caught in that traffic. If Point of Entry doesn't have best trip look for Finnegan's Wake at a PRICE. Worth the shot with Lezcano up. # 9 to win and saver Ex 1-9 or even 1-9 with 1-9 with all Trifecta. Lett'em run !!
EnthusiastOfAll More than 1 year ago
Totally agree. Finnegan's Wake at 20-1 is a huge value in this race. His two best career races came at 10f, both on yielding turf. His last race was clearly a refresher off the layoff and he needs more distance than that to really run his race. One of my sleeper picks of the day for sure. He'll be a decent price even in the place and show pools I imagine.
Dave More than 1 year ago
Good points. Mile way too short for him in the last race.
myjockwon More than 1 year ago
just sit back and watch him run saturday. the soft turf with the tight turns at churchill are the big reason for the scratch not wise dan.big difference than the 1 and a 1/4 at belmont with the big sweeping turns soft or not he's still the best turf horse at a mile and a 8th and further. look back on his form he's already won on the soft
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes he already has won on soft.... therefore no reason to scratch him. Tight turns at Churchill? compared to Belmont sure but they are hardly tight turns.....he scratched because of Wise Dan
myjockwon More than 1 year ago
when the turns are tight and the ground is soft there's a chance of getting a horse hurt and Shugs NOT going to take that chance with a horse like POE or any other for that matter cuz he's a real horsemen not a butcher, remember he doesn't get pushed into running like other trainers.
jay More than 1 year ago
Right,,,Exactly how many horses were vanned off after the Woodford Reserve? People like you make it sound like Shug is the only trainer who cares about his horses. I guess Charlie LoPresti doesn't care about Wise Dan. The only reason POE was scratched was because of Wise Dan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
so running Wise Dan in that race was a butcher job?????
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hmmm soft turf...no its not right for the horse.....Hmm soft turf (no wise dan)... Let's get to the gate!
jay More than 1 year ago
Agree 100%
jttf More than 1 year ago
how would shug know if he has the best training horse at belmont ? didnt he say orb had an outstanding workout before the preakness ? why not man up and tell the public the truth and state that wise dan was the reason you scratched point of entry ?
Rafael Acosta More than 1 year ago
Agreed. No shame in avoiding Wise Dan.
Jason Rothstein More than 1 year ago
shug manned up a long time ago, POE doesn't like soft going and is better at 10 furlongs. I'd like to see wise dan vs POE at a mile and a quarter, on firm ground. That would create some buzz.
arthur spalding More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan can't get 1 1/4 on top against POE..he's basically at his best 1 1/8th..had POE singled in the pk3 Oaks/Derby..knew if he scratched id cash with Dan
bill More than 1 year ago
Yup, Shug is ducking horses. What a dopey statement. People complain when trainers run horses to often or do whats not right by the horse. Then when a trainer does right by the horse, you still get dopes like this complaining about something
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
POE second race of the year how can he be running too often?
bill More than 1 year ago
Didn't say Shug was running POE to often, just a general statement that the fans are gonna complain no matter what the trainer does
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
what would somebody complain about if he didn't duck Wise Dan? 95% would be glad for the matchup and 5% of PoE fans would make excuses for him... but no one would complain.
jttf More than 1 year ago
anyone with any racing knowledge already knows that point of entry easliy beat grade 1 competition last september on a yielding turf surface (which included little mike). point of entry has only one race on an off dirt surface. he won that race by more than 15 lengths. shug, you lost some respect points with that ducking ability of yours. maybe you should have scratched orb from the kentucky derby. that was a wet surface.
Rafael Acosta More than 1 year ago
So why is he running him now? The turf will be terrible but the competition just right!