Red Knight Earns Grade I Glory In Man o' War S.

Red Knight | Janet Garaguso

By the age of nine, most racehorses have left their best days well behind them. However, 5-1 shot Red Knight (Pure Prize) clearly did not get that memo, pulling off the most important victory of his career in Saturday's GI Man o' War S. at Belmont.

Breaking from the inside gate under Irad Ortiz, Jr., the chestnut trailed the field early while racing inside of favored 3-5 European import Warren Point (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), who was caught napping at the start with Frankie Dettori in the irons.

Up front, Channel Maker (English Channel) and Strong Tide (English Channel) carved out modest splits of :23.54 and :49.18, however, the early trailers soon began to pick up the tempo, closing on the front rank up the backstretch. As Strong Tide turned up the heat on Channel Maker exiting the far turn, Warren Point and Red Knight continued to track wide approaching the final turn. While the European invader held the advantage over Red Knight straightening for home as the pacesetters continued to duke it out up front, it was the New York-bred that had the best closing kick, sweeping to the front late and fending off a tightly-packed gaggle of rivals, who hit the wire in a blanket finish. In the end, it was closer Soldier Rising (GB) (Frankel {GB}) who got a head in front for second while Strong Tide held onto the show spot. The favorite faded to fifth.

“He started taking me from the five-eighths pole to the quarter-pole waiting for the time to go and when I asked him he responded really well,” explained Ortiz Jr. “I was hoping he would move a little earlier than usual. He's a big horse and has a huge stride and it was in my mind I wanted to let him go a little earlier, but I was stuck there. I think by the five-eighths pole, Frankie's horse [Dettori and Warren Point] started to pick it up a little bit, so I tried to follow him and my horse was doing it easy so I don't want to get in his way. By the quarter pole, he was already in stride. I just bided my time and tipped him out and he did the rest.”

As for the beaten favorite, Dettori explained, “He had to leave the hood on [blindfold and blanket in the gate] until the end which is no good around here because you give too much ground away. He was too rank and too far back. There was no pace. I made a bit of a move, but he basically ran too fresh.”

Recording his first graded stakes victory in the 2020 GIII Sycamore S., the gelding wouldn't visit the winner's circle again until taking last summer's Colonial Cup and duly followed up with a score in the GII Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs later in September. Well-beaten in his next two starts at Keeneland, including an 11th in the GI Breeders' Cup Turf in November, he returned to action with a win in Gulfstream's GIII William L. McKnight S. Jan. 28 before coming up only a head short of the win in Keeneland's GII Elkhorn S. Apr. 22.

On a potential start in the 10-furlong GI Resorts World Casino Manhattan S. June 10, trainer Mike Maker said, “It's too early to say. We wheeled him back a little quicker than we would have liked to today, but it paid off. Having said that, if he tells us he wants to run then we'll be there.”

Pedigree Note:
The New York-bred's victory in the Man o' War earned his sire, Pure Prize, his 18th career Group 1 winner. Prior to Red Knight, Isabel Away's most accomplished runner was Macagone, a stakes-winning son of Artie Schiller that earned over $650,000 on the racetrack. The mare's last reported live foal was Druid (by Magician {Ire}), produced in 2018.

Saturday, Belmont Park
MAN O' WAR S.-GI, $600,000, Belmont, 5-13, 4yo/up, 1 3/8mT, 2:13.74, fm.
1–RED KNIGHT, 122, g, 9, by Pure Prize
                1st Dam: Isabel Away, by Skip Away
                2nd Dam: Indio Rose, by Alydar
                3rd Dam: Misukaw, by Northern Dancer
   1ST GRADE I WIN. O/B-Trinity Farm, LLC (NY); T-Michael J.
Maker; J-Irad Ortiz, Jr. $330,000. Lifetime Record: 34-12-9-1,
$1,717,763. *1/2 to Macagone (Artie Schiller), MSW,
$654,981. Werk Nick Rating: B+. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Soldier Rising (GB), 118, g, 5, Frankel (GB)–Sahrawi (Ger), by
Pivotal (GB). (240,000gns RNA Ylg '19 TATOCT). O-Madaket
Stables LLC, Michael Dubb, Morris Bailey, Wonder Stables &
Michael J. Caruso; B-Dayton Investments Ltd. (GB);
T-Christophe Clement. $120,000.
3–Strong Tide, 118, h, 6, English Channel–Dreamin Big, by Pure
Prize. 1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. O-Penny S. Lauer; B-Michael E. &
Penny S. Lauer (IN); T-Michael E. Lauer. $72,000.
Margins: 1HF, HD, NO. Odds: 5.40, 7.40, 50.75.
Also Ran: Howe Street, Warren Point (GB), Channel Maker, Verstappen, Value Engineering.
Click for the chart or the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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