Met Mile Field Loaded for Saturday’s Super Stakes Card at Belmont
A huge weekend of racing is set for the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, and the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap is loaded with a talented field. The one-turn ‘Met Mile’ event on the main track is part of a nine graded stakes race card Saturday, June 11 that includes the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
The ‘Met Mile’ is also a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup dirt mile November 5 at Santa Anita.
Heading the strong 13-horse field as favorite is Frosted, who finished second in last year’s Belmont Stakes following a fourth in the Kentucky Derby and a win in the Wood Memorial. Frosted won this year’s Al Maktoum Challenge in Dubai at Meydan in February. He’s one of two Grade I winners in the field along with Noble Bird, who wired the field by 11-lengths in winning the Grade 3 Pimlico Special May 20. The son of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone seems to be “putting it all together” says his Belmont-based assistant trainer Randi Melton.
“Frosted couldn’t be doing any better. This race could be a little short for him, but we’re excited about it and I think there will be a lot of pace,” said trainer Kairan McLaughlin.
Also running for McLaughlin is Tamarkuz, who finished fourth in last year’s Met Mile and has not won since March, 2015 in the Godolphin Mile at Meydan. Marking is getting respect in the betting market for McLaughlin despite not yet winning a stakes race and moving up in class. Ami’s Flatter is 2-for-3 this year after winning the Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland in April, but is also facing his strongest test yet.
Anchor Down will try to make it two in a row for trainer Todd Pletcher after winning a Grade II race here May 7. Also contending for Pletcher is Stanford and Blofeld, who “are horses that can adapt to different running styles depending upon the pace of the race.” Blofeld closed late at 9-1 odds to beat Stanford in the Gulfstream Park Handicap March 5. Stanford has improved as a 4-year old and won the Charlestown Classic wire-to-wire at 3-1 odds over favorite Donworth, who finished third. Donworth is a very big horse with tactical speed and now offered at a much bigger price.
Another long shot to keep an eye on is highly-rated and locally-stabled Upstart, who has nearly $1.5 million in earnings and is training very well with blinkers added and should be stalking the leaders. He won the Razorback Stakes (G3) in March and then had a disappointing trip in the Oaklawn Handicap in April, Finishing fifth just behind Blofeld.
Met Mile, Race 9, Saturday, June 11 at Belmont Park
Post Position, Rider and Odds:
- El Kabeir, Manny Franco, 30-1
- Blofeld, John Velazquez, 10-1
- Donworth, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1
- Noble Bird, Julien Leparoux, 9-2
- Frosted, Joel Rosario, 7-2
- Upstart, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 20-1
- Stanford, Javier Castellano, 5-1
- Ami’s Flatter, Martin Garcia, 6-1
- Sloane Avenue, Florent Guroux, 15-1
- Tamarkuz, Luis Saez, 20-1
- Calbulator, Junior Alvarado, 10-1
- Anchor Down, Jose Ortiz, 12-1
- Marking, Jose Lezcano, 8-1