Manhattan Jungle Tames Hill in $100K Sweet Life

February 12, 2023

Manhattan Jungle scores a win in the Sweet Life under Frankie Dettori (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif— Hammered to even money favoritism, Irish-bred Manhattan Jungle delivered the mail on Saturday at Santa Anita, as she rallied under Frankie Dettori to take the $100,000 Sweet Life Stakes by three quarters of a length. Trained by Michael McCarthy, Manhattan Jungle, in her first try down Santa Anita’s unique hillside turf course, got about 6 ½ furlongs in 1:14.08.

With Itzel and Umberto Rispoli going to the front and three other sophomore fillies in close pursuit, Manhattan Jungle was allowed to find her best stride down the hill while mid-pack. At the dirt crossing, Dettori moved three-deep and took control an eighth of a mile from home en route to an impressive win. 

“Frankie said she was kind of busy checking out the surroundings coming down the hill,” said McCarthy, who saddled Manhattan Jungle for the second time today and registered his third added money win of the meet. “From my vantage point as they were coming down the hill, I lost her for a quick second as they went behind the (video) board, it looked like she was just off the pace.

“This filly has been touting herself all along and she has been training super. I thought her race here opening week was great. It’s nice to see her get it done here.”

A solid second going a mile on turf in her Southern California debut, the ungraded Blue Norther Stakes here on Dec. 30, Manhattan Jungle, who ran eighth in her U.S. debut, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland Nov. 4, was off as the even money favorite among 10 sophomore fillies and paid $4.20, $3.20 and $2.60.

Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Manhattan Jungle, twice Group stakes-placed in France, picked up $60,000 for the win, increasing her earnings to $199,333 while improving her overall race record to 10-4-2-1.

“Michael told me to ride her with a lot of confidence, so we studied the speed upfront, angled her out and probably found myself out in front way too soon,” said Dettori, who registered his third stakes win of the meet while aboard Manhattan Jungle for the first time. “She was looking at everything, but she got the job done. It’s quite difficult for a horse to run first time (going) six and a half down the hill. It is so different, and they are looking at everything. I was pretty (impressed) that was a good performance.”

Frankie Dettori heads to the winner’s circle aboard Manhattan Jungle after they tamed the hill (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Off at 17-1 with Hector Berrios, the Jeff Mullins-trained Ragtime Rose rallied from last to finish second by three-quarters of a length over second choice Itzel and paid $10.80 and $7.00.

Off at 5-1, Itzel tired late but finished a neck better than Fun Money and paid $3.80 to show.

Fractions on the race were 21.72, 43.96 and 1:07.51.

Live racing resumes tomorrow with special early first post time for Big Game Sunday at 11 a.m. Admission gates open at 9 a.m.

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