Of the nine graded stakes races on tap Saturday at Belmont Park, there’s perhaps no contest as competitive as the $1.2 million, Grade 1 Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap. Better known as the Met Mile, the race is one of three Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” races on the card, along with the Ogden Phipps Stakes and the Jaipur Invitational Stakes.
#1 Mind Your Biscuits comes into this race off of an eye-opening second consecutive score in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. The most remarkable aspect of the victory was the fact that Mind Your Biscuits was well behind turning into the stretch (on a course that was favoring front-runners) and still managed to gobble up ground late to defeat stout competitors like X Y Jet and Roy H.
On class alone, Mind Your Biscuits projects to be a major player. The only concern with him would be the kind of setback that often befalls horses making their first start back from Dubai. For “Biscuit” fans, the good news is that he showed no ill effects in his first race back from Dubai last year, winning the Belmont Sprint Championship Stakes over this dirt course. Overall, he’s 2-for-4 at Belmont and has hit the board in all four races.
Several other interesting horses include #2 Bolt d’Oro, a 3-year-old colt in his first race against older horses. He cuts back to a one-turn mile (which his races this year indicate he might like). Meanwhile, his losses dating back to last year have come against the likes of Justify and champion Good Magic, which means he’s been in with the toughest of this year’s 3-year-old crop.
#5 Good Samaritan is another one who can compete on his best day and he should also enjoy the cutback. He posted a huge effort in his first start of 2018 back in March, and you can forgive his last start in the Alysheba on account of the track being extremely difficult on closers that day. His lone try at Belmont was not one of his best races but it was at 1 1/4 miles, which is a bit out of his range. This mile distance should be exactly what he’s looking for, and I’ll be using him on my tickets.
The main issue, from a pace perspective, for the likes of Good Samaritan and other quality midpack to late runners like #4 McCraken and #11 Awesome Slew is that there isn’t much speed signed up here. The pace could heat up but the only horse who has consistently been insistent on the lead is #10 Bee Jersey. He faces a major class test here, coming off a win in the Grade 3 Steve Sexton Mile at Lone Star Park. This is much deeper water here.
Finally, I’ve got my eyes on a bit of an outsider who should actually enjoy a bit of added distance for the first time in a while. #8 Ransom the Moon is a Grade 1 winner who ran well enough in his first race of 2018, a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Kona Gold Stakes. There’s reason to think that this horse is primed for a big effort — not the least of which is the fact that trainer Phil D’Amato has only shipped three horses off of a 45 or more day layoff to the New York circuit in the past five years; two of those horses won. Seeing as he’s got a little bit of early speed and will be stretching out here, Ransom the Moon looks like he might be fairly close to what projects to be a slower pace for this type of field.
Ultimately, I’m going to build tickets around #8 Ransom the Moon, #1 Mind Your Biscuits and #5 Good Samaritan. On a $50 budget, I’d make the following bets:
$10 to win, $5 place and show on #8 Ransom the Moon
$1 exacta box 1,5,8 ($6)
$1 trifecta 8 with 1,5 with all ($18)
$1 trifecta key 10 over 1,5,8 ($6)