Las Vegas, NV - Belmont Park in Elmont, New York will play host to the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap this Saturday, June 6 as part on Belmont Stakes day. A purse of $1.25 million will be on the line for horses three years old and upward willing to go one mile on Belmont Park's dirt track.
A terrific group of 10 milers will take part in the Metropolitan Handicap - race 9 on Belmont Park's insane Saturday schedule. Post time is 4:49 PM. Here is a glance into the past performances of all10 entries for this intriguing and rich Grade 1 stakes.
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2015 Metropolitan Handicap Race Favorite Entries
Tonalist 5-2 - Christophe Clement trained colt has placed in eight of 10 career starts and has won two of his last three starts. Last time out was one of those wins - by 3 3/4 lengths in the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes with a scintillating 111 Beyer Speed Figure here May 2 and before that was a fifth in the Breeders' Cup Classic and another win in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park September 27. Those results followed a third in the Grade 3 Travers Stakes, a second in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stake and a career defining win over California Chrome in the 2014 Belmont Stakes. He also had a great win in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes May 10 of last year. Tonalist has five wins, two seconds and a third place finish and has posted victory on some of the biggest stages. He looks to keep the roll going on a track he's won all four career starts - from gate 4 with John Velazquez guiding the 123 pound co- highweight and morning line favorite.
Bayern 7-2 - Bob Baffert trained colt has 11 career starts and has placed in eight - five graded stakes scores with two Grade 1 wins included. He enters off a disappointing last of six in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes May 2 after a superb wins in the Breeders' Cup Classic and the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby in September. Before a tenth in last year's Grade 1 Travers he had a two race win streak - the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park and the Grade 2 Woody Stephens by 7 1/2 lengths at Belmont Park June 7. Bayern has six wins in his 11 starts and has won four of his last six overall. Hopes are he can bounce back from an uncharacteristic effort last time out when he departs from post 7 with Martin Garcia in the irons of the morning line second choice.
Metropolitan Handicap 2015 | Remaining Contenders
Private Zone 4-1 - has placed in his last five starts overall for trainer Jorge Navarro - three wins over that span including the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes by 4 1/2 lengths last time out May 2, the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct in November and the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes in September - a race that he won for the second year in a row. Sandwiched in there is a second behind Honor Code in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in March and a third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Other good results include second place finishes in the 2012 Grade 3 Vernon Underwood, the Grade 1 Malibu and the Grade 2 Palos Verses in January, 2013 and the 2013 Cigar Mile. Private Zone has been in there with the best milers in the world and has fared very well. No reason to think differently about this weekend when Martin Pedroza has the mount from the rail looking for Private Zone's third win in three starts at Belmont Park.
Wicked Strong 6-1 - returned to action after six months away and finished a close fourth in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap March 7 and followed that with a third last time out in the Grade 3 Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct April 25. He recorded DNF after clipping heels and falling in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park in September after a second to V.E. Day in the Travers Stakes August 23 and a good win over Tonalist in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy July 26. He had consecutive fourth place finishes in last year's Triple Crown races - in the Belmont Stakes and in the Kentucky Derby and he also had an eye-opening win - in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct April 5. Wicked Strong has 13 career starts with three wins, two seconds and two third place finishes and had been in every start last year before the disappointment of the Gold Cup. He has had three works at Belmont, two of them bullets, most recently going five furlongs in 58.98 seconds May 29. Joel Rosario has been tabbed to ride from gate 6 as Wicked Strong attempts to snap a four race losing streak dating back to July.
Honor Code 6-1 - Shug McGaughey trainee has seven career starts with four wins and two second place finishes. He was on the Triple Crown trail last year before sustaining an injury to his right leg and was out of racing between March and November of 2014. He finished second in the Grade 1 Champaign Stakes in October, 2013, won the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct a month later and has just four starts since - an Allowance Optional Claiming score at Aqueduct and a win in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in March being the best results. Last time out was a bit of a hiccup however - a fifth in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes May 1 at Churchill Downs. Honor Code hopes to bounce back from his first off-the-board finish when he leaves from post 9 with Javier Castellano guiding him.
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Tamarkuz 10-1 - Kiaran McLaughlin trainee makes his North American debut Saturday having posted seven wins and two seconds in 13 career starts overseas. He enters on an impressive four race win streak - all at Meydan. Last time out was a Group 2 win in March after a wins in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar Sponsored By Emirates Holidays and another Group 3 Stakes. He enters in terrific form and could be a factor Saturday. Irad Ortiz has been tabbed to ride Saturday from post 5.
Pants On Fire 15-1 - won two graded stakes races in 2013 - the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup and the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap and has placed in eight straight races ahead of this weekend. He enters off a third in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs May 2, a win in the minor Sir Shackleton Stakes at Gulfstream in Marc and a third in the minor Harlan's Holiday Stakes in December. He ended 2014 with a respectable third in the Breeders' Cup and a win in the minor Wild and Wonderful Stakes at Charles Town in September. Pants On Fire has been in every race the last year and hopes to keep the roll going for trainer Kelly Breen - from gate 8 with Paco Lopez aboard.
Kobe's Back 20-1 - Peter Eurton trained colt enters off a good win in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland April 4. His other graded stakes score came in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita in February, 2014. Two starts back was a good second in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita in March - it followed three off-the-board finishes - a fifth in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes last July and fourths in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens Stakes and Lazaro Barrera Stakes a year ago. Kobe's Back has three wins, two seconds and a third place finish in 11 career starts and hopes to build on consecutive good efforts - from the outside post with Gary Stevens in the reins.
Bay of Plenty 20-1 - Kiaran McLaughlin trained colt has placed in six of seven career starts - four wins and two second place finishes. He enters off an Allowance Optional Claiming score here April 29 after a second in his only stakes action to date - the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct in November. He has won four of his last five starts overall and looks good ahead of this weekend. Mike Smith gets the call from gate 2 Saturday looking for Bay of Plenty's fourth win at Belmont Park.
Noble Moon 30-1 - has just one start this year - a second in an Allowance Optional Claiming April 17. He finished his 2014 campaign with a pair of sixths - the Grade 1 Cigar Mile November 29 and the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap November 1. Before that was a pair of fourths - in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby September 20 and in the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga August 23. He did with the Grade 1 Jerome Stakes in January, 2014 but hasn't tasted victory since - in fact he hasn't placed in his last five graded stakes starts. Jose Ortiz will be in the saddle hoping to change all of that from post 3 Saturday.
2015 Metropolitan Handicap Entries & Odds
Race 9 on Belmont Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 4:49 PM.
|1||Private Zone||M. Pedroza||J. Navarro|
|2||Bay of Plenty||M. Smith||K. McLaughlin|
|3||Noble Moon||J. Ortiz||L. Gyarmati|
|4||Tonalist||J. Velazquez||C. Clement|
|5||Tamarkuz||I. Ortiz, Jr.||K. McLaughlin|
|6||Wicked Strong||J. Rosario||J. Jerkens|
|7||Bayern||M. Garcia||B. Baffert|
|8||Pants On Fire||P. Lopez||K. Breen|
|9||Honor Code||J. Castellano||C. McGaughey III|
|10||Kobe's Back||G. Stevens||P. Eurton|