A field of eight line up in Saturday’s feature at Belmont Park, the $500,000 Met Mile (G1) led by three Grade 1 winners.
The Met Mile is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Keeneland on Nov. 7 and is one of five graded stakes on the 11-race 4th of July card at Belmont Park.
The Bob Baffert trained McKinzie is looking to improve off his runner up finish in last year’s edition, which was won by Mitole in a very deep and competitive field.
McKinzie has won a Grade 1 race at two, three and four and now looks to add another as the 2-1 morning line favorite.
“I think any time you win a Grade 1 on the east coast it’s pretty important, especially at Belmont and Saratoga. It’s like hitting a home run in Yankee Stadium, it means something,” Baffert said.
Vekoma is the 5-2 second choice in the race for trainer George Weaver. The colt won the seven-furlong Carter Handicap (G1) in the slop on June 6 at Belmont Park in his last outing.
Code of Honor will be saddled by Hall of fame trainer Shug McGaughey and is the 3-1 third choice on the morning line. The colt won the Travers (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) last year, the latter thanks to a disqualification of Vino Rosso.
McGaughey is confidence the talented colt has matured as a four-year-old.
“He just grew up physically in his body and his mind,” said McGaughey. “He’s gotten more aggressive and he’s caught onto what it’s all about now. He was still figuring things out last year, especially earlier in the year. Everything he’s done this year has been good.”
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The Met Mile will be televised on the NBC Sports Network at 5:00 ET. In addition, FS will cover the action from Belmont Park from 1:00 to 7:00 ET.
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Belmont Park Race 9 The Metropolitan Hcp G1 (5:47 ET)
5 Code of Honor 3-1
7 Mr Freeze 8-1
3 McKinzie 2-1
2 Vekoma 5-2
Code of Honor
The McGaughey trainee stalked the early pace and came with a good late rally to win the Westchester (G3) last out in the mud here last out off a seven-month layoff. The Shug trainee has won three of four over the main track here, taking last year’s Dwyer (G3) at a mile and getting placed first thanks to a DQ in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) over Vino Rosso. He did not fire next out in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) where he was a disappointing seventh at 7-2. The colt looks primed for a top effort here second off the bench.
This guy stalked the early pace and made a mild late rally to finish third in the Oaklawn ‘Cap (G2) at nine furlongs. The winner By My Standards came back to finish second in the Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs in his next outing with a 102 Beyer. Two back the Romans trainee earned a career top speed fig winning the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2). It was his fourth triple digit Beyer in five starts. The one turn mile suits him better which he gets here, and he likely is going to get overlooked in the betting here.
The Baffert trained McKinzie is coming off a sharp win in the Triple Bend (G2) at seven furlongs off a three-month break. He rebounded off an awful showing in the Saudi Cup (G1) two back. He has landed in the exacta in 14 of his 16 career starts, the other whiff coming in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) back in ’18. He one trip here was a solid second in this race last year which drew a really deep group. He looks as if he has regrouped form his Saudi trip and the extra ground here suits him. Smith is in to ride for Baffert. The main knock is going to be the likely light price.