- 6 horses are entered in the Metropolitan Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
- Knicks Go looks like the class of the field though he hasn’t run since the Saudi Cup in February.
- Mischevious Alex will be ridden by Jose Ortiz in place of his injured brother Irad Ortiz, Jr.
There are seven Grade 1 stakes races on the Belmont Stakes undercard and the Metropolitan Handicap is one of the most intriguing. It’s certainly the most enduring having been run since 1891 when it was contested at Morris Park Racetrack. With the exception of 1895, 1911 and 1912 it has been run every year–though it has gone through plenty of changes during its lifetime. The 2021 Metropolitan Handicap is a Grade 1 Stakes race with a purse of $1,000,000 USD for three year olds and up. It’s Race 9 on Saturday’s Belmont Card with a scheduled post time of 4:42 PM Eastern.
The Metropolitan Handicap is often referred to as ‘The Met Mile’ though prior to 1897 it was run at a distance of 1 1/8 mile. In 1904, it moved to Belmont Park though it has been run six times at Aqueduct Racetrack. Initially, the Met Mile was the first of three races in a series known as the ‘New York Handicap Triple’. It was followed by the Suburban Handicap and Brooklyn Handicap. That series was won four times by Whisk Broom II (1913), Tom Fool (1953), Kelso (1961) and Fit to Fight (1984). That tradition ended in 2004 when the ‘Met Mile’ was moved from late May to the Belmont Stakes undercard in early June. That puts it on the same day as the Brooklyn Stakes (Race 4 on Saturday’s Belmont card) and that move has made completing the NY Handicap Triple a logistical impossibility.
Here’s a quick rundown of the entries in order of post position with morning line odds:
MISCHIEVOUS ALEX (5-2 morning line odds): Mischievous Alex starts from the rail coming off a win in the 7 furlong Carter Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct. He won a pair of G3 races as a three year old and is trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr. Jockey will be Jose Ortiz, subbing for his injured brother Irad Ortiz, Jr. who went down in a nasty spill on the Thursday Belmont card. Plenty of concern about his ability to win at the distance, especially in what is expected to be a disadvantageous pace. That includes his trainer:
“The concern is there’s not much pace in the race. The only horse that could potentially go with Knicks Go is probably us. Ideally, you want to ride a horse that may have distance limitations with a little more patience.”
DR POST (9-2 morning line odds): Dr. Post’s most memorable effort is likely a second place run in the 2020 Belmont Stakes behind Tiz the Law as a three year old. He took third in the TVG.com Haskell Stakes and has won his only start to date as a four year old, the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes at Belmont on May 1. Todd Pletcher trains, John Velasquez will ride. Dr. Post’s is stepping up in class from his previous win and not sure that he’s capable of pulling off the win here.
SILVER STATE (7-2 morning line odds): Steve Asmussen trains, Ricardo Santana Jr. will ride. Silver State enters on a five race winning streak, most recently the Oaklawn Handicap (G2). Asmussen has won two of the past three Met Miles with Bee Jersey (2018) and Mitole (2019). If Mischievous Alex is able to set a fast pace with Knicks Go it could hand the race to the strong closing Silver State.
LEXINGTONIAN (20-1 morning line odds): Was a surprise second in the G1 Churchill Downs Stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Couldn’t hold off Flagstaff in the stretch run and lost by a head. No stakes wins since 2019 and he just doesn’t look to be in the class of the rest of the field. Jack Sisterton trains, Tyler Gaffalione will ride.
BY MY STANDARDS (10-1 morning line odds): Five year old By My Standards has had an up and down career as an older horse, winning three graded stakes victories last year before his form dropped badly against higher class opponents. After two rough starts in G1 events he was given a few months off to freshen up and scrapped out a win in the Oaklawn Mile Stakes upon his return. He wants to come off the pace but his best effort could see him crossing the wire behind Silver State. Bret Calhoun trains, Gabriel Saez will ride.
KNICKS GO (6-5 morning line odds): Won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland by 3.5 lengths in November 2020 in a track record setting performance. In his first 2021 race we ran away from the field in the G1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes winning by 2 3/4 lengths. Coming off a disappointing 4th in the G1 Saudi Cup. Brad Cox trains, Josel Rosario will ride. No one in the race can touch his speed so if he gets a clean start and goes to the front he could be gone.