The Jeremiah Englehart trained Pat On the Back appears to be the one to beat in Saturday’s $300,000 Kelso Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park.
A field of seven line up in a race named after the five-time Horse of the Year Kelso, who won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) five times along with victories in the Woodward (G1) and Whitney (G1).
Pat On the Back is a New York bred that has done some of his best running over the Belmont Park main track including winning the Empire Classic last fall and the Commentator in May. Dylan Davis has the return call on the five-year-old, who is the second choice on the morning line at 3-1.
Prince Lucky is the 2-1 morning line favorite. The Todd Pletcher trainee won the State Dinner in his last outing on July 7.
True Timber (9-2) is making his first start since a ninth-place finish in the Godolphin Mile (G1) in Dubai in March. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee has won twice over the Belmont Park main track and ran second in last year’s Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct.
“He’s been doing very well and we’re happy with him. He’s ready to get going,” McLaughlin said. “He needed more time off after Dubai than most do but he’s training well. It’s a tough race but he’s up for the task and he should run well. Luckily, we have patient owners that allow us to give him the time that he needs.”
The co-feature on Saturday’s card is the $200,000 Noble Damsel (G3) for fillies and mares going one mile on the turf. Six line up led by the Chad Brown trained Significant Form, winner of the Ballston Spa (G2) in her last outing.
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Belmont Park Race 10 The Kelso Handicap (G2) Post time 5:57 ET
3 Pat On the Back 3-1
2 True Timber 9-2
5 Prince Lucky 2-1
6 Plainsman 4-1
Pat On the Back
The five-year-old stretches back out to a mile after dueling for the early lead and weakening to finish third last out in the six-furlong restricted Tale of the Cat at Saratoga. He has done some of his best work over the Belmont Park main track, landing in the exacta in 8 of 10 trips with five wins. He won the state bred Commentator at today’s distance two back and won the state bred Empire Classic last fall at nine furlongs. The Englehart trainee should get a good tracking trip off what looks likely to be a sharp early pace. The barn is 24% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from sprint to route.
The McLaughlin trainee is seeking his first stakes win and is making his first start since getting outrun in a ninth-place finish in the Godolphin Mile (G1) in Dubai. He started off ’19 by getting outrun in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) in the slop in a seventh-place finish. He ran well in his last two starts of ’18, a runner up finish in the Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) behind runaway winner No Dozing and then a solid runner up in the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) at 31-1. He was beaten just ¾ of a length by Patternrecognition. He has solid looking works on the morning tab for a barn that is 17% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180-day layoff.
This gelding dueled for the early lead and finished well to win the State Dinner last out over the main track here. He bounced back after getting beaten double digit lengths in the Westchester (G3) and Met Mile (G1) in his two previous outings. Earlier this year he won back to back races at Gulfstream Park going a one turn mile, the Hal’s Hope (G3) and Gulfstream Park Mile (G2). He owns solid early and mid pace numbers but will not have things easy early as there is plenty of early zip signed up to go here. Pletcher has won the Kelso three times, most recently with Anchor Down in ’16.
WIN: Pat On the Back to win at 5-2 or better.
EXACTA: 2,3 / 2,3,5,6
TRIFECTA: 2,3 / 2,3,5,6 / 1,2,3,5,6