Mr. Amore Stable’s It’s a Gamble will look to spring an upset in Sunday’s $100,000 Manila, a one-mile Widener turf test for sophomores at Belmont Park.
Trainer Kelly Breen hopes to sweep the Sunday stakes at Belmont with homebreds for owner Ron Lombardi, also sending out multiple graded stakes-winner Firenze Fire in the co-featured Grade 2, $250,000 John A. Nerud, a seven-furlong sprint for older horses offering a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November at Del Mar.
A New York-bred son of English Channel, It’s a Gamble is the most experienced contender in the field, boasting a record of 9-3-1-0 with purse earnings of $176,327.
It’s a Gamble won on debut at Saratoga Race Course in August, rallying from last-of-10 in a 5 ½-furlong state-bred maiden special weight. Following off-the-board efforts in October in the Nownownow at Monmouth Park and the Awad at Belmont, It’s a Gamble closed his juvenile campaign by winning an optional-claiming turf sprint at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Through four starts this year, It’s a Gamble’s best efforts have come in his last two outings, finishing second two starts back in the 1 1/16-mile Woodhaven in April on the Big A turf and a last-out win in the off-the-turf Jersey Derby on May 28 at Monmouth.
“He’s a good little horse, another nice one for Ron,” said Breen’s assistant trainer John Attfield. “He stepped things up last time, so we’re hoping for another good run.”
Joel Rosario will pilot It’s a Gamble from post 8.
M Racing Group’s Like the King, trained by Wesley Ward, captured the nine-furlong Jeff Ruby Steaks in March on the Turfway Park synthetic ahead of finishing 12th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 1 at Churchill Downs.
The Palace Malice chestnut, who graduated on the Belterra Park turf in September, enters from a fifth in the Audubon, contested at nine furlongs over good Churchill turf on May 29.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez has the call from post 3.
Cash is King and LC Racing’s Ridin With Biden will make his turf debut for trainer Butch Reid, Jr.
The dark bay son of Constitution, out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Allemande, is a half-sibling to turf allowance winner Music of Life.
Ridin With Biden graduated at fourth asking in May in a seven-furlong sprint against older company at Parx and followed with an optional-claiming win going one mile last out on June 7 at the same track.
“He’s a horse we’ve been high on all along,” said Reid, Jr., who noted he might cross-enter Ridin With Biden in Monday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Dwyer going a one-turn mile on the main track. “He just has some personal quirks that worked against him. It seems like he is maturing. He seems to have calmed down and has a good head on his shoulders.”
Frankie Pennington retains the mount from post 7.
LNJ Foxwoods and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Annex, a Kentucky-bred Constitution chestnut, finished fourth as the beaten favorite last out in the off-the-turf Grade 3 Penn Mile on May 28 at Penn National.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Annex posted narrow wins in the Palm Beach and Cutler Bay over the winter at Gulfstream ahead of an off-the-board effort in the Grade 2 American Turf on May 1 at Churchill Downs.
Junior Alvarado will pilot Annex from post 4.
Klaravich Stables’ Public Sector, trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown, enters from a three-quarter length optional-claiming win on June 4 traveling one-mile over yielding Belmont turf.
The Kingman bay, bred in Great Britain by The Kathryn Stud, finished second in the Grade 2 Pilgrim in October but failed to fire when 12th in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in November.
Flavien Prat, aboard for the last-out win, will guide Public Sector from post 2.
Waterville Lake Stable’s New York-homebred Straw Into Gold will make his first start against open company, entering from a frontrunning score by a neck in a 1 1/16-mile state-bred allowance event on May 23 at Belmont.
Trained by Christophe Clement, the Hard Spun gray is out of the graded-stakes winning Unbridled’s Song mare Strike It Rich and is a half-brother to multiple stakes winner Sea Foam.
A maiden winner at first asking in November at the Big A, the lightly-raced Straw Into Gold finished second in his seasonal debut, traveling one-mile on the Aqueduct turf.
Straw Into Gold will emerge from the inside post under Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Eric Fein’s Original has finished third in his last three starts for trainer John Terranova.
The Quality Road bay captured a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight over yielding Aqueduct turf in November, but was eased next out in the Jerome at one-mile on the Big A main track on New Year’s Day.
Following a good third in the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy on January 30, Original completed the trifecta in both the Woodhaven and the optional-claiming event won last out by Public Sector.
Luis Saez has the call from post 5.
Palm Beach Racing’s Hot Blooded, by Declaration of War, captured the Proud Man in August at Gulfstream for trainer Carlos David. Bred in Florida by Hallmarc Stallions, Hot Blooded has made his last six starts against stakes company, including a fourth last out in the Jersey Derby.
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will ride Hot Blooded from post 6.
The Manila is slated as Race 9 on Sunday’s 10-race program. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
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Photo: Belmont ( NYRA Photo)