Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 9/22/14

We step away from the Triple Crown chase in this weekend’s Horse Racing preview to take a look at one of my favorite races of the year, the 2012 running of the Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park in New York. As always, the race came up strong with 2011 Preakness winner Shackleford, 2011 Breeders Cup Mile winner Caleb’s Posse and To Honor and Serve, a winner of four of his last five, as the top contenders.

Run (almost) every year since 1891, the Metropolitan Mile, or Met Mile as it’s been nicknamed, is a true test of quality. It’s not a sprint, yet it’s a not a distance race either and it takes a special horse to win it. In fact, the list of previous winners is a who’s who of Horse Racing.

I go back to the great Sysonby, who won 14 of 15 career races (and would have won all 15 if not for his groom taking a bribe to drug the horse) won the 1905 running, albeit a dead heat. Skipping up to 1923 when Grey Lag, who was ranked #54 on the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Equipose who won an eye popping six year end championships, won back to back runnings in 1932 and 1933. Stymie, the rags to riches horse (he only won seven out of his first 50 starts but would start in an unheard of 131 races later in his career) also won back to back runnings in 1947 and 1948, Tom Fool, who won an amazing five year end championships, was ranked #11 on the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century and later sired one of the most amazing stretch runners this correspondant has ever seen in Buckpasser, won in 1953.

Other winners include Native Dancer (1954), Gallant Man (1958), Sword Dancer (1959), Kelso, who won a staggering five straight Horse of the Year Titles (a feat that will never be matched) won it in 1961, the aforementioned Buckpasser (1967), the mighty Forego won back to backers also (1976 and 1977), Fappiano (1981), the gorgeous Conquistador Cielo zipped the mile distance in 1:33 flat in 1982, One of the more versatile horses I’ve ever seen, Gulch, won back to backers in 1987 and 1988, and more recently the wickedly fast Ghostzapper (2004), Quality Road in 2010 and Tizway won it last year and burned up the track in doing so as he ran the distance in 1:32.4.

One of the best stretch runners in history, Buckpasser, won the 1953 running of the Met Mile

Belmont Park – May 28, 2012

Race 10 – 5:47 PM    

Metropolitan Handicap (Grade I)

Purse $750,000

One Mile

 

PP

Horse

A/S

Med

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

1 To Honor and Serve 4/C L J Lezcano 120 W I Mott 2 Shackleford 4/C L J R Velazquez 119 D L Romans 3 Caleb’s Posse 4/C L R Maragh 121 D K Von Hemel 4 Saginaw 6/G L D Cohen 115 D Jacobson 5 Caixa Eletronica 7/H L J Castellano 117 T A Pletcher 6 Jackson Bend 5/H L C S Nakatani 121 N P Zito

Analysis:

1) To Honor and Serve- finally seems to be fulfilling the promise he showed a three year old last year. This big, handsome bay horse by Bernardini has won four of his last five races dating back to last August.

Moreover, that one defeat he suffered last year was in the Breeders Cup Classic and even then, he beaten less than four lengths for all the money. Add to that fact that he is 3 for 3 at this (one mile) distance and 2 for 2 over the Belmont strip and you come up with what should be the winner.

2) Caleb’s Posse- this colt by Posse, who possesses a very strong late run, is back to his best distance. He won the Breeders Cup Mile last year and has closed well to just miss in his first starts this year (beaten a neck in the Tom Fool March 3 and a nose in Carter Handicap April 7).

He has been burning up the racetrack in the morning as he has a long list of fast works. I also love the consistency as he has been on the board 14 of 18 lifetime starts. On paper, he most definitely looks like the top choice’s main rival.

3) Shackleford: finally snapped a seven race, one year losing streak at Churchill Downs in his last race as he rated slightly off the pace before taking over down the stretch and winning by a length. The 2011 Preakness winner should be on or near the lead early and might prove tough to get past down the stretch.

Honorable Mention:

Even though Jackson Bend has 19 of 25 career starts on the board, including his last nine in a row, he doesn’t land in the winner circle consistently enough for me to back with any confidence.

 

Record: 8-25= 32%

Little Bets N’ Pieces:

**** Not only is Bodemeister skipping the Belmont Stakes, so to is Creative Cause. Bodemeister will take some time off before being pointed to the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Racetrack inNew Jersey in late July.

“He could use a breather” trainer Bob Baffert said this past weekAs for Creative Cause, he will “get some time off and then probably point towards turf racing in southern California later on in the summer” according to trainer Mike Harrington.

**** Union Rags, who finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby as the favorite, worked five furlongs in1:01 on Thursday at his home base in Maryand. (Fair Hill Training Center)

“He looks well and went really nice,” trainer Michael Matz said. “We’re looking forward to running him in theBelmont, and hopefully, he’ll get a clean trip this time and have a chance to show what he can do.” 

Matz added that Union Rags suffered some minor cuts in the Derby and will have one more work at Fair Hill and he hopes to get (new rider) John Velazquez to come down and work the colt.

Union Rags

 **** The Virginia property (formerly known as “The Meadow Stable”) where 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat was born has been sold at a foreclosure auction for nearly $5.35 million.

Mark Motley of Motley’s Auction Realty Group said the State Fair of Virginia’s real estate, including the 360-acreMeadowEventPark site where Secretariat was foaled in 1970, was purchased this past Tuesday by Mark Lovell of “Universal Fairs”.

The State Fair of Virginia acquired the Meadow Farm property in 2003 for $5.3 million and moved the annual fair from Richmond, where it had been held since 1854. The non-profit unfortunately defaulted on about $80 million in financing from creditors and was forced to sell.

**** ……and finally in the “This has nothing to do with Horse Racing” section, Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen is at it again. The comment about how he “respects” Fidel Castro weren’t bad enough, now he’s taken aim at Heat guard Dwayne Wade.

Guillen was angered when he caught Dwayne Wade arguing with the Miami Heat’s head coach Eric Spoelstra in front of cameras. Guillen, who is never at a loss for words, said:

“I will kick his (Wade’s) ass. Well, I won’t say I’ll kick his ass. He’d kick my ass because he’s bigger than me, and I’m older. But I will take my chances. Some people have to understand our job”…Good Lord Ozzie, shut up already…..

Ozzie Guillen vs. Dwayne Wade??

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