Ten Things You Should Know: Manhattan Handicap
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

Originally published on June 9, 2011
2009 winner Gio Ponti, one of several Eclipse Turf winners to win the Manhattan (NYRA/Adam Coglianese)

1) The Manhattan Handicap is currently run at 1 ¼ miles over the turf course at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.

2) According to the NYRA website, the first running of the Manhattan is unknown. The Manhattan’s inaugural came in either 1867, 1872, or 1896. The first time a race was identified as the Manhattan Handicap in New York came in 1872.

3) The race has been hosted at four different New York tracks. In its early years, it was run at the now defunct Morris Park and Jerome Park. It moved to Belmont Park in 1905 and has been there ever since with the exception of a brief period in the 1960s when it was run at Aqueduct.

4) Traditionally, the Manhattan had been a staple of the New York fall racing calendar, but it moved in the early 1990s to its current place on the Belmont Stakes undercard in the spring.

5) The race has been run on both dirt and turf and has been run at five different distances from 6 furlongs to 15/8 miles. It was run for the first time on turf in 1970 but returned to the main track for the 1977, 1979, and 1988 editions.

6) Few stakes races can boast such a diversity of winners over such a vast time span. Roseben, the Hall of Fame sprinter, won the 1905 and 1906 editions of the race at six furlongs. The champion turf horse Round Table won the race when it was still run over a dirt course in 1959. Devil Diver, three-time Met Mile winner, won the 1944 edition at 1½ miles. In recent years, Eclipse-winning turf horses Gio Ponti, Paradise Creek, Chief Bearhart, and Sky Classic have won the Manhattan.

7) Preakness, the only horse with the distinction of having an American Triple Crown race named in his honor, won the 1872 Manhattan Handicap.

8) Dark Secret won the 1½ miles Manhattan in 1933 and 1934. During those same two years, he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup twice, the Saratoga Cup, and the Brooklyn Handicap. Tragically, he broke down during the running of the 1934 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

9) In 1959, in the only New York stakes win in a brilliant racing career, Round Table won the 1 5/8 miles Manhattan Handicap at Aqueduct carrying 132 pounds. It was the last win and second to last race of his life.

10) Hall of Famer and legendary trainer James Rowe, Sr. won the Manhattan five times, a record that has stood for over 75 years. He won his first in 1887 with Lady Primrose. His last win came with Victorian in 1928 in one of the last stakes wins of his training career. Rowe died in 1929.

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