Code of Honor Chasing Another Grade 1 in Met Mile
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
The $500,000 Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (G1) – popularly known as the Met Mile – takes place as part of a stellar card Belmont Park on Saturday. There are five graded stakes races on tap, including the $400,000 Manhattan (G1) and the $200,000 Suburban (G2) over 1 ¼ miles.
Two-time Grade 1 winner Code of Honor is seeking his fourth win at Belmont Park in the one-mile contest, but faces a tough field including McKinzie and Vekoma.
Code of Honor got his first taste of Grade 1 experience at Belmont as a juvenile, running second in the Champagne before taking the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park as a sophomore. He was third in the Florida Derby (G1) and placed second in the Kentucky Derby (G1) before adding the Dwyer Stakes (G3), Travers (G1), and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) in succession last summer and fall. Two of those wins came over this track, where he is three for four lifetime.
Off since the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in November, the chestnut son of Noble Mission (GB) returned to the races in the June 6 Westchester (G3) and won by a half-length over Endorsed, who is also in this field. Although the Shug McGaughey-trainee is a winner from six furlongs to 1 ¼-miles, Code of Honor has won over this one-mile distance once in three tries. John Velazquez will be back aboard.
$3.4 million earner McKinzie is the main challenger. The son of Street Sense runs for trainer Bob Baffert, who set the one-mile distance on fire here with Gamine in the Acorn (G1) two weeks back. McKinzie was second in this race last year as the favorite, and went on to win the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga. He ran second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) before finishing well beaten in the Saudi Cup (G1) before returning to sprinting in the Triple Bend (G2) on June 7 at Santa Anita. He won easily under Mike Smith, who will partner again for this.
Dangerous runner Vekoma was off from the 2019 Kentucky Derby until the Sir Shackleton at Gulfstream Park on March 28. He won that by nearly four lengths, then the George Weaver-trainee annexed the Grade 1 Carter over this course on June 6. The son of Candy Ride (ARG) is unbeaten in two starts at the track, was a Grade 2 winner as a sophomore, and won his only try at the distance. Javier Castellano will ride.
Warrior’s Charge ships in from Kentucky where he is in training with Brad Cox. The son of Munnings won the Razorback (G3) at Oaklawn Park in February before finishing second in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) over 1 1/8 miles in May. Florent Geroux will ride the four-year-old, who has been top three in eight of nine career starts.
Grade 2 winner Mr Freeze, four-time winner Endorsed, Grade 1 winning sprinter Hog Creek Hustle, and stakes winner Network Effect complete the top field. Wager on the Belmont Park at TVG.com.
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