Las Vegas, NV - Belmont Park in Elmont, New York will play host to the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on Belmont Stake Day, June 7. Horses three years old and upward will take to Belmont Park's main track and go one mile searching for the winner's share of the $1.25 million purse.
The Met Mile has attracted a strong field of 13 older entries including the top four finishers from the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes to go in race 9 on the Belmont Stakes undercard. Post time is 4:48 PM. Let's take a glance into the past performances of all 13 entries for this lucrative Grade 1 stakes - a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In Race" in the Dirt Mile division.
Palace Malice - Todd Pletcher trained colt was a disappointing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Classic but has reeled off three straight graded stakes wins since - by 9 3/4 lengths at this distance in the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes on this track May 11, by 4 3/4 lengths in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap over Normandy Invasion at Fair Grounds March 29 and over Golden Ticket in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap March 8. Last year he parlayed his enormous 3 1/4 length win at 13-1 odds in the Belmont Stakes with a win over Will Take Charge and Moreno by 9 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy July 27. This after a disappointing twelfth in the Kentucky Derby. He was fourth in the Grade 1 Travers in August but bounced back with a good second behind Ron the Greek in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup September 28 as well. Three straight wins overall and two wins and two seconds in four career starts on this track has Palace Malice looking like the one to beat Saturday. He will attempt to become the first horse to win both the Belmont and the Met Mile in his career since Conquistador Cielo swept the races in 1982. Palace Malice departs from the unfavorable rail post as the 8-5 favorite on the morning line. John Velazquez has the mount on the 124 pound highweight.
Normandy Invasion - had a second in last year's Grade 1 Wood Memorial behind Verrazano, a disappointing fifth in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds February 23 and a good second in the Grade 2 Remsen in November and then finished an OK fourth in the Kentucky Derby for trainer Chad Brown. He was off for nearly 10 months after that result but retuned February 22 to a win in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Gulfstream. Most recently Normandy Invasion was a good second in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds March 29. He has two wins and three second place finishes in eight career starts and has looked decent ahead of this weekend. Normandy Invasion is listed as the 5-1 second choice and will have Javier Castellano aboard from post 9.
Shakin It Up - Bob Baffert pupil had a fourth in the Grade 2 Sunland Derby last March 24 and impressively won the Grade 1 Malibu over Central Banker at 17-1 odds in his first try around two turns with a 106 Beyer Speed Figure at Santa Anita December 26. He followed that with another impressive win January 18 in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes. He has two starts in 2014 - a good second behind Central Banker last time out in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes and a fifth in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita in March. Shakin It Up has four career wins (three graded stakes), two seconds and a third place finish in eight starts and hopes to get back to the form that saw him dominate this past winter. He starts from the outside post with Rosie Napravnik in the saddle.
Central Banker - has 12 career starts with four wins, three seconds and two third place finishes and is coming off a career-best performance - a win in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes over Shakin It Up, Clearly Now, and Broadway Empire May 3 - after a sixth in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap April 5 and a good second in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes December 26 at Santa Anita. This followed an OK second in the minor Thanksgiving Handicap at Fair Grounds November 28, a fourth in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Keeneland in October and a good third in the Grade 3 King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga in August. He also had a nice win in the minor Quick Call Stakes July 25 after eight months away. Central Banker has placed in three of his last four graded stakes races and off that win May 3, he is certainly trending in the right direction ahead of this weekend. Corey Nakatani rides from post 6 at 8-1 odds.
Goldencents - finished an ugly seventeenth as one of the favorites in last year's Kentucky Derby but he looked terrific after that - before a disappointing seventh last time out in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct November 30. A win in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile punctuated a pretty good stretch. Although he was a pedestrian fifth in last year's Preakness, he bounced back with three straight second place finishes ahead of his Breeders' Cup score - in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship October 5, in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien and before that in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby behind Points Offthebench at Del Mar July 28. Before the Kentucky Derby he had three wins in four starts including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in April, the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot and Sham Stakes. Goldencents had three wins and three thirds in 10 starts last year and will be looking for a huge bounce back this week in his first start of 2014. Mike Smith will be aboard at an intriguing 10-1 odds from post 4.
Moreno - was last seen running an OK fourth in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special May 16 after a decent third behind Game On Dude and Imperative in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic April 19. He ended 2013 with a disappointing tenth in the Breeders' Cup. The Eric Guillot pupil won the Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes in impressive fashion by seven lengths July 6 and followed that with a respectable third behind Palace Malice and Will Take Charge in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes July 27. He had a pair of good seconds at the end of the summer before his Breeders' Cup experience - in the Grade 1 Travers behind Will Take Charge and ahead of Orb and in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx September 21. Moreno has placed in six of his last eight starts overall and hopes to build on two straight decent results. He goes off at 10-1 odds from gate 5 with Joel Rosario guiding him.
Clearly Now - Canadian Invader has 13 career starts and had eight starts in 2013 and placed in all but one - a fifth in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on this track back on November 30 being the lone blemish. He had a great win before that in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler October 26, a second in the Grade 3 Gallant Bob at Parx September 2, a second in the minor Charlie Barley Stakes at Woodbine July 6, and an impressive win in the Grade 3 Swale Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream March 2. Clearly Now has two starts in 2014 - both third place finishes - last time out in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes May 3 followed a third in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap in April. He has been in the money all but once in his career - competitive every time out. Jose Lezcano will ride Clearly Now from post 10 at 10-1 odds.
Romansh - Thomas Albertini trained colt is coming off a terrific win in the Grade 3 Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct March 22 after a very disappointing last of eleven in the uber-competitive Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream February 9 and a career best result - a 9 /4 length win with a 110 Beyer Speed Figure in the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct November 2. This after failing to place in his first two graded stakes tries - a sixth in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx in September and an OK fifth in the Grade 1 Travers in August. Romansh has four wins and a third place finish in nine career starts but has won two of his last three overall in impressive fashion. Jose Ortiz has been tabbed to ride Romansh from gate 12 at 15-1 odds.
Broadway Empire - finished a somewhat disappointing ninth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and followed that with another ninth in the minor Zia Park Derby to end his 2013 campaign and has been slightly better in two start in 2014 - an Allowance Optional Claiming score at Turf Paradise in April was followed by a fourth last time out in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes May 3. He did have two nice wins in Canada last summer - the Grade 3 Canadian Derby by three lengths as favorite August 17 and the minor Ky Alta Handicap by seven lengths in July - both results at Northlands Park and he also won the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park September 29. He has five wins and a second place finish in 10 career starts and enters in so-so form this weekend. Broadway Empire goes off at 20-1 odds from post 11 with S A Stevens in the reins.
Capo Bastone - Todd Pletcher colt was a distant ninth in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes last March 23 after an Allowance Optional Claiming score at Gulfstream February 16 and a respectable third behind Shanghai Bobby in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November, 2012. He hasn't been great since outside of a terrific win in the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes in August - last time out was a sixth in his only start of 2014 - the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes after a tenth in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile in November and an ugly last place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. He has three wins, a second and two thirds in 12 career starts but has placed in just one of his last five starts overall. Victor Espinoza will ride at 30-1 odds from post 7.
Declan's Warrior - Nicholas Zito pupil has 10 career stars with four wins and four seconds. He recently finished second to Palace Malice in the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes on this track May 11 after a second in a Starter Allowance March 20, a seven month layoff and a DNF in the King's Bishop Stakes August 24. He had a three race win streak at this time last year - in the minor Gygistar Stakes over Tenango May 22 after an impressive win in the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes over Clearly Now at Aqueduct April 6, and in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Gulfstream March 6. Declan's Warrior is 30-1 on the morning line and will leave from post 8 with Joe Bravo guiding him.
Vyjack - won his first four career starts including a pair of graded stakes scores at Aqueduct - the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes and the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes to start 2013. He then finished third in the Wood Memorial and was eighteenth in the Kentucky Derby for trainer Rudy Rodriguez. He has continued to be inconsistent - a sixth in the Haskell Invitational, an eighth in last year's Belmont Stakes and an eighteenth in last year's Kentucky Derby. Last time out was an Allowance Optional Claiming score in his only start in nine months. Irad Ortiz will be aboard from post 2 at 30-1 odds.
Scarly Charly - Michael Hushion trained gelding has seven career starts - all MSW races with a win, a second and three third place finishes. He takes a major step up in competition Saturday from post 3 with Manuel Franco aboard.
Race 9 on Belmont Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 4:48 PM.
||I. Ortiz, Jr.
||A. Stall, Jr.
||Shakin It Up