2021 Metropolitan Handicap at a Glance
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Courtesy of John Piassek of America's Best Racing
While the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets is the headliner of the Saturday card at Belmont Park, the Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap commands plenty of attention by itself.
Commonly known as the Met Mile, the race was first held at the old Morris Park in 1891. It was the feature race on the first day of racing at Belmont Park in 1905, when the great Sysonby finished in a dead-heat for the win with longshot Race King.
Traditionally held on Memorial Day, the race was moved to the Belmont Stakes undercard in 2014. The race carries a purse of $1 million, and is also part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series. The winner will receive a spot in the starting gate for the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar on Nov. 7.
1. Mischevious Alex (5-2 morning-line odds): He showed some promise last year, winning a pair of Grade 3 races. However, he’s truly blossomed as a 4-year-old. He’s a perfect 3-for-3 on the year, winning all his races by at least 3 ¼ lengths. In his last start, he won the Grade 1 Carter Handicap by 5 ½ lengths, stalking the pace and drawing off impressively. He’ll look to keep building on what’s been a breakthrough season so far.
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.; Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr.
2. Dr Post (9-2): He was Grade 1-placed twice in 2020. Last June, he finished second in the Belmont Stakes behind Tiz the Law, then was third in the TVG.com Haskell Stakes. In his lone start as a 4-year-old, he won the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes at Belmont on May 1. He’s the only horse in the race who has won a stakes on this track. John Velazquez, who has not ridden him since his maiden win at Gulfstream Park in March 2020, gets the mount. Velazquez has won the Met Mile a record five times.
Jockey: John Velazquez; Trainer: Todd Pletcher
3. Silver State (7-2): This Steve Asmussen trainee enters this race on a five-race winning streak. He won three stakes races at Oaklawn Park in the winter, all of them in hard-fought, dramatic fashion. Last out, he won the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap by half a length, for his first graded stakes win. As a closer, he’s hoping for a fast early pace to run into. Asmussen is looking for his third Met Mile win in the past four years. He also won with Bee Jersey in 2018 and Mitole in 2019.
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.; Trainer: Steve Asmussen
4. Lexitonian (20-1): He almost pulled off a shocker in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs Stakes Presented by Ford. In a dramatic stretch run, he made a bid toward the center of the track in the final quarter-mile but could not hold off Flagstaff, who surged by him to win by a head. Lexitonian held off Whitmore for second. He’s won two stakes races in his career but none since July 2019. His speed figures are a cut below those of the top contenders. It would be a surprise to see him get it done here.
5. By My Standards (10-1): He had an impressive 4-year-old campaign last year, with three graded stakes victories. After two disappointing performances against Grade 1 company to cap his campaign, he was given a few months off and returned with a nose win in the Oaklawn Mile Stakes over Rushie. He’ll look to improve in his second start off the long layoff. Look for him to rate just off the pace and make his move as they round the far turn.
Jockey: Gabriel Saez; Trainer: Bret Calhoun
6. Knicks Go (6-5): His last two American races have been very impressive. He won the Grade 1 Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland last November by 3 ½ lengths, setting a new track record in the process. In his 2021 debut, he went gate-to-wire in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes and crossed the finish line 2 ¾ lengths in front. He finished fourth in the Group 1 Saudi Cup in his most recent start, but has had a string of strong workouts since mid-April in preparation for his stateside return. There’s not much speed in the race, so if he can get away with an uncontested lead, he may prove very tough to catch.
Jockey: Joel Rosario; Trainer: Brad Cox
THE PICK: Knicks Go
LIVE LONGSHOT: Silver State
- June 24, 2021
The road to the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic heats up this Saturday, with the 40th running of the Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs. The race carries a purse of $600,000 and will be run at 1 ⅛ miles on dirt.
- June 24, 2021
Esperanza Blanca and Sissy Chanel Lead Saturday’s Gran Premio Pamplona in Peru for Automatic Berth into Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf
Stud El Castillo’s Esperanza Blanca and Stud Ehden’s Sissy Chanel, the first two finishers in the Clasico Republica Argentina (G3), lead 14 starters in Saturday’s 1 ¼-mile Gran Premio Pamplona (G1) at Hipodromo Monterrico in Peru.
- June 23, 2021
For fans following the upper echelon of the sport, the main focus shifts toward the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series. The series' “Win and You’re In” events give the best horses in training qualifying berths for the 2021 World Championships.