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Breeders' Cup 2017

Manila Finishes Career with Victory in the 7th Arlington Million

For those of you who can recall the 1987 NFL season you will remember that for three games the league used replacement players or “scabs.”  The play was sloppy, the names of the players were virtually unrecognizable, and I just don’t recall any of THOSE players’ cards being in my extensve card collection. 

Such was not the case in the 1987 Arlington Million though which featured the likes of Manila and Theatrical, household names and not “replacement” horses (though it would be interesting to see if the horses ever went on strike for more money.)  For this race East coast turf machine and even-money post time favorite Manila shipped into Arlington Park and ended his career with a 1 ½ length victory in the Million with the great Angel Cordero Jr. aboard.

Previous to this Million race Manila had won nine (nine times, Ferris?) straight races until suffering defeat with a second place finish in the Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga to seven year old Talakeno.  The winning streak was quite impressive considering the races he had won such as the Lexington, United Nations, Turf Classic, Breeders’ Cup Turf, and the United Nations (again.)  Coming into the Arlington Million we all knew that Manila would rate.  However, he would have to again contend with Theatrical. 

Theatrical was coming into the Million with his own impressive winning streak by winning four races in a row including the Hialeah Turf Handicap, the Bowling Green, and the Sword Dancer.  Actually, Theatrical went on to win the last three races of his career after the Million: the Turf Classic, Man O’War, and the Breeder’s Cup Turf.  Two very impressive horses colliding in what would end up being a thrilling 7th Arlington Million.

22-1 shot Forlitano grabbed the early lead and set some decently quick turf fractions of :23.3, :48.2, and 1:13.3 while both Manila and Theatrical stalked the leader just off the pace.  With a quarter-mile to go Theatrical grabbed the lead passing by Forlitano and 10-1 shot Rivlia while Manila was just starting his move.  Coming down the stretch Manila kicked into another gear taking a three length lead on the field overtaking the great Theatrical.  Finally Manila crosses the finish line with the victory over a hard charging 4-1 shot Sharrood (also coming off a pair of impressive victories in the Stars and Stripes and Eddie Read.) 

This particular race stands out in my mind as one where two quality turf horses squared off in a battle of champions on the great and massive Arlington turf course!  I have a feeling we may be subject to another great race with Gio Ponti and Cape Blanco this year! 


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Older Comments about Manila Finishes Career with Victory in the 7th Arlington Million...

Footlick........love your knowledge about Euro horses and Euro racing. You always bring it into proper perspective.
Very true Laz- but you have to remember that our turf horses run on flat, small courses compared to the European counterparts. So, I never compare what an American horse does here. Part of the uniqueness in European racing is the difference of the courses and the layouts. Plus the fact that a soft turf course to us is probably good to firm there. Last year was the first time that I heard Euro's really being vocal about the hardness of the American tracks. And Sir Henry won't bring Midday this year because of the turf course at Churchill. The two racing worlds are so different. Interesting point about the breeding of those three, but remember they were sired by horses who made their name in Europe before standing here. Lyphard, Vaguely Noble and Sea-Bird were European champions who were brought here to stand stud. So yes, they were American bred, but they were sired by sired who raced in Europe, so they were very familiar to Europeans. But it is a very interesting point, as all of yours always are.
Footlick……no argument from me about Dancing Brave. I’ve seen most of his races and like I said he was special and certainly was one of the best all time, and certainly was much more than a miler, winning twice at 10F and two of four at 12F. It’s interesting to note that like Allez France and Dahlia, he was an American Bred. I always thought that Manila was an honest horse and underrated. I thought he was capable of racing against the top horses in the world along with horses like Lure and Paradise Creek, an Arlington Million winner who was second by a nose in the ’94 Japan Cup and once ran 10F on turf when winning the Manhattan in 1.57.4. I always thought that Round Table was special on turf even though he only ran 16 of 66 career races on the surface. To me, if he would have raced in Europe and exclusively on turf he would have been one of the top turf horses all time. He won 14 of 16 on turf (including his first eight), with a 2nd by a half length to a really good horse named Clem and a miserable 16th when he cut his foot on soft turf). Round Table was also a member of that super class of ’57, one of the deepest American crop of three year olds all time. Where have the great turf horses in North America gone?
Laz- as I said, nothing against Manilla. He was a wonderful horse. But I believe an in form Dancing Brave would have won with no problem. If you YouTube his races you can see what kind of horse he was, and it was a much more impressive animal than the one you saw in the BC. Jolley made his comment because he knew Dancing Brave didn't ship well, wasn't handling the heat and wasn't going to run well. And he didn't. Some people will say that he was overrated because of how he ran in the BC.. My response would be to watch his races and decide for yourself. He ran the fastest Arc that had been run up to that moment. It probably took more out of him than they thought as people always though of him as more of a miler and they probably underestimated Manila. But if I ranked both of them at their best on a course that would be fair to both, I would have to rank Dancing Brave the better horse. Just my opinion though. Doesn't mean I am right.
Hey Footlick. Glad you posted and believe it or not I was actually waiting for you to comment. I know that Dancing Brave wasn’t actually at his best probably because of the heat and the fact that the track was pretty firm that day and I wasn’t trying to dis him because he really was something special. But to me it wasn’t so much about Dancing Brave not being at his best as opposed to Manila not getting the credit due him that I posted. Manila wasn’t exactly used to the heat either and this was his first and only race on the west coast. Manila was 8-1 in the race, the longest odds in his career on turf, Dancing Brave was 1-2 and even Theatrical was 5-2, this in spite of Manila winning 6 of 8 on the turf with two seconds and coming into the race on a 4 race win streak. What impressed me about the race and why I think he would have been tough to beat anyway is his stretch run, how he ran up along the inside, was shut off, had to slow his momentum while he pulled back and then cleared and then took off and wore Theatrical, who was in full momentum, down. The time was 2.25.2 and I believe that he would have beaten 2.25 for sure if he hadn’t been forced to slow and clear and on that day not too many horses would have run that fast.
Laz- it would have been a walk in the park if Dancing Brave showed up in form, but Leroy Jolley stated in the press before the BC Turf that Dancing Brave hadn't acclimated to the warm California weather at all, didn't look good and he didn't think he would run well. Take nothing away from Manilla, but the Dancing Brave who ran in the Breeder's Cup was not a true reflection of the horse's talent and class.
I always considered Manila one of North America’s premier turf horses especially when going the distance. He was undefeated in two races at 10F and two at 12F. He was versatile when it came to tack conditions and won on soft, hard, firm and yielding turf. My favorite win was the 1986 BC Turf when he defeated the great Dancing Brave (4th), a tough mare in Estrapade and his rival Theatrical. The English thought that this race would be a walk in the park for Dancing Brave, who back then had the 8th best Time Form Rating all time of 140 which, ties him with recent horses Sea the Stars and Harbinger. That 1986 BC Turf was a classic. Manila was fifth in the turn and hugged the rail while Dancing Brave went to the outside. Estrapade had the lead around the turn and into the stretch and Theatrical took off after her. Manila closed on the rail, was shut off and in deep stretch pulled off the rail and went three wide and got up in time. What a race. What a horse.
Awesome look back at a champion who may be new to many fans! Looking forward to more Million Memories!
Probably the best American turf horse I ever saw.
sorry should read "researched his success"
Wow, haven't thought about Manila inm years. Out of curiosity, I reached his success as a sire. He did have limited success (perhaps because he stood in Turkey?), most notably with Bien Bien. Theatrical, as we know, would go on to have a very successful stud career.

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