The 2023 Belmont Stakes is shaping up to be a tremendous race, and it will headline an incredible day of racing and wagering at Belmont Park that will essentially equate to a sort of mini-Breeders’ Cup in June with a total of nine important graded stakes races topped by the 155th running of the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.
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Belmont Stakes day, with the help of the sensational undercard, will be about as good as it gets on the mid-year racing calendar. Belmont will host six Grade 1 races on Saturday, June 10, including the $1 million Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap, the $750,000 Resorts World Casino Manhattan Stakes, the $500,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes, the $400,000 Woody Stephens Stakes Presented by Mohegan Sun, and the $400,000 Jaipur Stakes. The Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational Stakes, the Grade 2 True North Stakes, and the Grade 3 Poker Stakes round out the stakes competition on the card.
Three of the Belmont Stakes day races will have extra prestige. They’re part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series, which ensures the winners of a spot in the starting gate at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 3-4. All three races will feature the kind of high-quality fields you would expect and will add to what promises to be a memorable day or racing and wagering at beautiful Belmont Park.
Here is a closer look at the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races on the 2023 Belmont Stakes undercard.
$500,000, Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes, fillies & mares, 1 1/16 miles, 4yo & older
Officially a prep race for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, the Ogden Phipps drew a short field that is nevertheless long on quality with some of the principals of the older female division in attendance in the six-horse field. The favorite should be Clairiere, who has stepped out from the shadow of her rivalry with the now-retired Malathaat to become the leader of the distaff division after her victory over Secret Oath in Oaklawn’s Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap last time out. Clairiere beat Malathaat in this race last year and will seek the repeat. Secret Oath will challenge once again in the Ogden Phipps after falling only a neck short of Clairiere in the Apple Blossom. This will be no two-horse race, either. Played Hard really came into her own last time in her Grade 1 win in the La Troienne Stakes Presented by Twinspires.com, and multiple graded stakes winner Search Results always looms a danger in spots like this. Pass the Champagne, winner of the Grade 2 Ruffian Stakes at Belmont in her last start, and allowance winner Gamestonks round out the small but stellar field.
$400,000, Grade 1 Jaipur Stakes, 6 furlongs on turf, 3yo & older
Turf sprinting is a big part of the day-to-day racing at Belmont Park and the Jaipur has attracted the fastest turf sprinters on the grounds in this “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. As you would expect, the starting gate will be filled to the brim with 14 contenders plus two also-eligible entrants and this figures to be perhaps the toughest race on the card to handicap. The favorite should be reigning Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion Caravel, who apparently has returned better than ever in 2023 with back-to-back wins in the Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland and the Unbridled Sidney Stakes at Churchill Downs. She will be challenged by a murderer’s row of blazing turf sprinters like Yes and Yes, Go Bears Go, Arrest Me Red, Nothing Better, Big Invasion, and defending Jaipur victor Casa Creed just to name a few of the many contenders.
$1 million Grade 1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap, one mile, 3yo & older
The Belmont Stakes is all about the 3-year-olds but the older horses are not to be overshadowed on this national spotlight day when they take their turn on center stage in the Metropolitan Handicap in what is always one of the most important stakes races of the year.
This serves as a Win and You’re In race for the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Last year’s running of the “Met Mile,” as the race is commonly referred to, was won by budding star Flightline, who went on to win the Longines Classic and not the Dirt Mile on his path to earning Horse of the Year honors in 2022.
This year’s Met Mile is shaping up to have the potential to be another classic with the popular 2022 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Cody’s Wish headlining the field. If you are looking for a better price in the Met Mile, horseplayers will have plenty of other quality options, including the 1-2 finishers in Belmont’s Grade 3 Westchester Stakes, Repo Rocks and Zandon. There’s also Doppelganger, who exits a win in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap Presented by NYRA Bets at Aqueduct on April 8. A big gun invades from the West Coast in the form of Dr. Schivel, who is on the comeback trail now after a big allowance win at Santa Anita. You might remember him as the runner-up by a nose in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Finally, there’s Charge It, who is coming off a disappointing loss last time out in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. At his best, however, Charge It won the Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes on this track by 23 lengths in 2022.
The Belmont Stakes, along with these three “Win and You’re In” races on the road to the Breeders’ Cup and the rest of the big-time stakes races on the card should make the Saturday, June 10 Belmont Stakes Day program one of the best of the year. Enjoy the day and best of luck.