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Wake Forest Becomes Grade I-winning Turfer in Man o’ War

Peter Pan Stakes Day

Wake Forest (GER), with John Velazquez wins the 62nd running of the Man o'War Stakes at Belmont Park on May 14, 2016.

(Photo by Sue Kawczynski/Eclipse Sportswire)

The German-bred Wake Forest earned his first graded stakes win in North America and first-ever Grade or Group 1 when rallying from last-to-first to win the 1 ⅜-miles Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont Park on May 14. In two prior North American starts, the son of Sir Percy (GB) finished sixth in last year’s Arlington Million (G1) and second in the Pan American Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park last month.

Wake Forest was a two-time Group 3 winner in his native Germany before arriving in America last summer. In the Man o’ War, Wake Forest broke last in the nine-horse field and had just one horse beat while saving ground down the backstretch. Blocked behind a wall of horses inside the eighth pole, jockey John Velasquez steered Wake Forest outside of rivals and once clear, the tandem surged past horses to win by three-quarters of a length. Money Multiplier, who pressed the pace and had the lead inside the final furlong, held second by one length over Can’tstopbelieving (GB).

Things couldn’t have gone much better for trainer Chad Brown in the Man o’ War, as he saddled both Wake Forest and the runner-up.

“It’s nice to run one-two. I’m sorry there had to be one horse lose after running so great, but they both ran terrific,” Brown said. “Getting a race under [Wake Forest’s] belt, running such a hard race [in the Pan American] coming off a layoff and then having six weeks helped.

“The whole thing came together nicely,” Brown added. “Everything worked out for this horse today. He’s got a lot of talent; Grade 1 talent.”

Wake Forest competed in the Arlington Million for trainer Andreas Wohler and his prior German-based ownership group, which included breeder Stifting Gestut Fahrhof. He is now owned by Michael Dubb, Sheep Pond Partners and Bethlehem Stables LLC. He has won seven of 13 starts and the $240,000 winner’s share of the Man o’ War pushes his earnings to $603,666.

Wake Forest stamped himself as a top contender in a division that, at least until Flintshire returns, is wide open. The next logical spot for Wake Forest would be the $1 million Manhattan Stakes (G1) going ten furlongs on June 11 at Belmont Park.