Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park

Dave Bond | OTB Writer

Las Vegas, NV - Belmont Park will be the focus of the horse racing world on Saturday, Jockey Club Gold Cup day at the famed New York track. The second stakes race on the jam packed Saturday card is the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap for three year olds. A purse of $400,000 will be on the line for those willing to go one mile on Belmont's main dirt track.

A field of nine three years olds will go in the Kelso - race 6 on Belmont Park's Saturday schedule. Post time is 3:30 PM. Let's take a look at all nine entries and what brought them to this Grade 2 event.

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2012 Kelso Handicap Race Favorites

To Honor and Serve - will make his fifth start of 2012. He recorded an impressive win at the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes on April 28 on this course over this distance to start his year after a win in the Cigar Mile to end 2011 and went on to a third in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on May 28 and an unspectacular fourth in the Grade 2 Suburban on July 7. Last time out he rebounded in a big way with a win in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on September 1. To Honor and Serve has eight wins a second and three third place finishes in 15 career starts and looks to get back to the form that saw him enter the year as one of the three year olds to watch.

Shackleford - Shackleford won the 2011 Preakness, finished fourth in the Derby and fifth in the Belmont Stakes - he has to be considered a serious contender in this one. He won the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on May 5 over Amazombie and followed that up with an equally impressive score in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap over Caleb's Posse on May 28. Shackleford had a brief layoff and returned with a disappointing eighth in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt Handicap last time out on August 5. He will be looking to return to form for trainer Dale Romans and is a deserved favorite on Saturday. He also boasts impressive results such as a respectable 2nd in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs in November and seconds in the Florida Derby and Indiana Derby. Shackelford did struggle late in 2011 with a seventh in the Donn Handicap and an OK third in the Carter Handicap but his two wins in May serve notice that he is a contender this week.

Kelso Handicap 2012 | Remaining Field Entries

Tapizar - Tapizar was a serious Triple Crown Contender last year before a knee chip all-but-ended he three-year-old aspirations. Still, Tapizar has to be considered for the Kelso. Last time out was an impressive win in the West Virginia Governor's Stakes to follow a decent second in the Grade 2 Razorback at Oaklawn in March. He also has an impressive win at the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita on January 14. His win last time out after a five month break proved that his refreshening was effective - he like so many can't be counted out this Saturday.

Pacific Ocean - had an impressive win at the Grade 3 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park in November before a less than scintillating sixth in the Grade 2 True North Stakes at Belmont on June 9. He rebounded in a big way and posted an impressive win in the Grade 3 James Marvin Stakes on July 20 but followed that up with a disappointing fifth last time out in the Grade 1 Forego. Pacific Ocean has five wins and a second place finish in nine career starts but has been a tad inconsistent as of late.

Kelso Handicap betting at Belmont Park with

Golddigger's Boy - has placed in four of five starts in 2012 - three of which came at Parx. He started the year with a third in the Bensalem Stakes, followed it with a win in the Lyman Handicap and has posted a third and a second in the next two races. Last time out was a very good second in the Grade 3 James Marvin behind Pacific Ocean at Saratoga on July 20.

Jersey Town - finished third in this race last year but has been inconsistent since. Last time out was a decent third in the Grade 1 Forego Stakes to follow a sixth in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt Handicap and a second in the Sir Shackleton Stakes in March. He has raced only three times in 2012 and hadn't looked great in any before his decent result last time out.

Trickmeister - Trickmeister is an intriguing entry into the Kelso - six wins in his first seven career starts - the Grade 1 Donn Handicap in which he finished sixth being his only blemish. Since then has a third place finish behind Mucho Macho Man in the Suburban, an uncharacteristic fifth in the Whitney after challenging for the lead and then fading and a fourth last time out in the Grade 1 Woodward on September 1. He has four stakes wins but none of the graded variety for trainer Richard Dutrow.

Isn't He Perfect - has nine starts in 2012 for trainer Richard Dutrow with his sixth last time out in the Grade 1 Forego representing his only graded stakes action in 2012. Isn't He Perfect followed a pair of Allowance Optional Claiming scores in May with a pair of seconds in the next two starts both minor stakes races - the Mountainview Handicap on July 28 and the Birdstone Stakes here on August 2.

Gallant Fields - will make his stakes debut on Saturday after just three wins, five seconds and five third place finishes in 17 career starts. Gallant Fields won an Allowance Optional Claiming last time out for trainer Richard Dutrow but appears outclassed in this one.

2012 Kelso Handicap Entries & Odds

Race 6 on Belmont Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 3:30 PM.

Post Horse Jockey Trainer ML Odds
1 Isn't He Perfect M. Luzzi R. Dutrow, Jr.
2 Golddigger's Boy J. Lezcano R. Preciado
3 Jersey Town J. Castellano B. Tagg
4 Tapizar C. Nakatani S. Asmussen
5 To Honor and Serve J. Velazquez W. Mott
6 Shackleford R. Dominguez D. Romans
7 Gallant Fields J. Rosario R. Dutrow, Jr.
8 Pacific Ocean W. Garcia R. Dutrow, Jr.
9 Trickmeister C. Velasquez R. Dutrow, Jr.

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