05/14/2016 7:05PM

Wake Forest finishes fast in Man o' War

Barbara D. Livingston
Wake Forest, ridden by John Velazquez, heads a one-two finish for trainer Chad Brown in the Man o' War.

ELMONT, N.Y. - John Velazquez came into the stretch of the Grade 1, $400,000 Man o’ War at Belmont Park with plenty of horse aboard Wake Forest. He just needed some running room.

With one furlong remaining in the 11-furlong race, Velazquez was able get Wake Forest out in the clear and the 6-year-old German-bred did the rest, motoring past the quartet of horses in front of him en route to a three-quarter-length victory in the Man o’ War.

Wake Forest beat stablemate Money Multiplier, who pressed the pace of Go Around to give trainer Chad Brown a one-two finish in the race. Trainer Graham Motion saddled the third- and fourth-place finishers, Can’thelpbelieving and Up With the Birds. Closing Bell, Kaigun, Morandi, Go Around, and Biz the Nurse complete the order of finish.

The win was the first in three tries in this country for Wake Forest, who was a multiple Group 3 stakes winner in Germany. He finished sixth in the Arlington Million last August.

In his first start since the Million, Wake Forest was beaten a head by Kaigun in the Grade 2 Pan American at Gulfstream. He came with a strong late run that day, too, but the 1 1/2 miles might have been a tad too far.

“It certainly helped getting a race under his belt,” Brown said. “Running such a hard race off the layoff and then having six weeks helped. The whole thing came together nicely.”

Wake Forest didn’t break sharply on Saturday and was eighth of nine runners for the opening mile of the race. But Velazquez was able to save all the ground along the rail.

Go Around set the fractions, but Money Multiplier was just off his flank through a mile in 1:38.22.

Wake Forest came to the eighth pole in fifth position, before getting to the outside and powering home. He ran his last quarter-mile in less than 23 seconds and covered the 1 3/8 miles over firm turf in 2:01.55. He returned $6.30 as the favorite.

“He has some kick,” Velazquez said. “That’s why I didn’t panic. I know he can kick. I was waiting for the seam.”

Brown, who has a plethora of talented turf males, including defending male turf champion Big Blue Kitten and defending Manhattan winner Slumber, said Wake Forest would be considered for the Grade 1 Manhattan going 1 1/4 miles on Belmont Stakes Day.

“I think he can cut back even further in the Manhattan,” Brown said. “I’ll see what group of horses that I would point towards there out of my stable but this horse would be at the top of my list.”