ELMONT, N.Y. - Under high weight of 123 pounds including Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist has been made the 3-5 favorite over five foes for Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban Handicap, one of six graded stakes on the second annual Star & Stripes Day at Belmont Park.
The 1 Â¼-mile Suburban will be run as race 9 of 11 on the Independence Day card and will be televised on NBC from 5-6 p.m. along with the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational.
The 4-year-old Tonalist, who is 4-for-5 at his home track - all in graded stakes - will be shedding blinkers as he looks to rebound from his only loss at Belmont, a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day. Last year, the Tapit colt won the Grade 2 Peter Pan at 1 1/8 miles, the Grade 1, 1 Â½-mile Belmont, and the Grade 1, 1 Â¼-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup, and began this year with a 3 Â¾-length romp in the Grade 3, one-mile Westchester.
Sent off as the favorite in the Met Mile, Tonalist rallied five-wide from seventh to finish 3 Â¾ lengths behind the hard-charging Honor Code.
"He wore the blinkers for the Westchester and the Met Mile and he was very sharp," said Christophe Clement, who trains Tonalist for Robert S. Evans. "At a mile-and-a-quarter, he doesn't need to be that sharp. He's been training very well and we are excited about running him.''
Tonalist will leave from post position 6 in the Suburban.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will start two horses in the Suburban: Repole Stable's Coach Inge, who in his stakes debut was a front-running winner of the Grade 2, 1 Â½-mile Brooklyn Invitational on Belmont Stakes Day, and the 5-year-old Mylute, who, in his first start for Pletcher, was an easy 2 Â¼-length allowance winner on May 29 at Belmont.
At 4-1 and under 118 pounds, Coach Inge drew post position 2 and will be ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., while Mylute, 5-1 on the morning line and saddled with a 115-pound impost, will leave from post position 3 with Javier Castellano in the irons.
In his most recent start, Effinex was pulled up approaching the eighth pole in the Brooklyn as the 3-1 second choice after going wide on both turns. The 4-year-old colt had won both his previous starts in 2015, taking an allowance and the Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct Racetrack. Since the Brooklyn, the Tri-Bone Stable color-bearer has breezed twice, covering a half-mile in 51.25 seconds on June 19 and going six furlongs in 1:14.85 on June 27.
"I'm not sure what went wrong in his last race," said trainer Jimmy Jerkens. "He's trained well since then, and we're hoping it was just an anomaly."
Junior Alvarado will ride Effinex, 8-1 on the morning line and carrying 117 pounds, from post position 5.
Rounding out the field are Anstu Stables' lightly raced Street Babe, who earlier this year won the Grade 3 Mineshaft at the Fair Grounds, and Neck n' Neck, the multiple graded stakes winner who was supplemented to the race.
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