Grade 1 stakes abound on the Belmont Stakes undercard Saturday, including the tradition-rich Met Mile. The former Memorial Day fixture has been part of this mega-undercard since 2014. It's one-turn mile configuration brings together a slick mix of speed and stamina. The Met Mile will be Race 10 of 13 at Belmont Park on Saturday with post time set for 5:04 pm ET.
Players betting on the Xpressbet and 1/ST BET platforms can take advantage of up to a $10 money-back special on all races Saturday at Belmont. If your win bet finishes second or third, get up to a $10 refund of your wager.
Grade 1 winners here include CODY'S WISH, DR. SCHIVEL, ZANDON, DOPPELGANGER and WHITE ABARRIO. Other challengers who are Grade 1-placed include SLOW DOWN ANDY, HOIST THE GOLD, CHARGE IT and REPO ROCKS. That means all 9 runners have won or placed already at the Grade 1 level. What a big-time cast with no real class edge.
Sprinters HOIST THE GOLD and DR. SCHIVEL should be fastest early with CHARGE IT in close attendance. REPO ROCKS won't be far off the front. This looks like a fair early pace for most any running style if good enough on this day.
Here are my horse-by-horse notes.
1-CODY'S WISH: Breeder's Cup Dirt Mile hero has won 5 straight and isn't shy of the big stage having won on Derby Day last time out (and has 3 bullet workouts since then). Westchester Stakes win over this track and trip last May checks the box for handling the local assignment as well. Odds-on favorite will give 4-7 pounds to his rivals under the handicap conditions.
2-SLOW DOWN ANDY: Third-place finisher behind Cody's Wish in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, he makes his first start in more than 7 months in an incredible difficult spot. Mid-pack sort might be a bit more keen early given the layoff, which could make his task tougher going fast early and having to tap on the light foundation late.
3-DR. SCHIVEL: Like Slow Down Andy, he represents California in this intersectional matchup. The west coast has held its own with 3 Met Mile winners the past decade, including the great Flightline last year. He's no Flightline, of course, but was awesome in his return at Santa Anita in May after 14 months on the sidelines. The 2021 Breeders' Cup Sprint runner-up will be tested for stamina, but is a legit threat.
4-HOIST THE GOLD: Sprinter won the pace battle in the Churchill Downs Handicap, but lost the war as Cody's Wish came by with a whoosh to win easily. Extending another 220 yards to the mile trip likely won't aid his cause. He gets in lightest at 119 pounds, so it's a 7-pound shift since his last meeting with Cody's Wish.
5-CHARGE IT: When he's hot, he's hot; when he's not, well ... The enigmatic 4-year-old returns to the scene of his greatest hit, a 23-length victory in last year's Dwyer Stakes over this same track and distance. Charge It will be reunited with his Dwyer pilot, John Velazquez, in just their second career pairing. But Charge It has dropped both stakes since as the favorite. Nothing in his work tab indicates a major form shift is coming, but horses-for-courses can be a real thing.
6-ZANDON: Late-running runner-up in the Westchester local prep behind Repo Rocks as the 3-5 favorite. The price will rise this time and the pace will have to be strong to give him his best chance late. I like the return to jockey Flavien Prat, who piloted last year's Kentucky Derby third-place finisher through most of his best career efforts. Don't discount.
7-REPO ROCKS: Since moving to high-percentage trainer Jamie Ness, he's 6: 5-1-0 and simply a different level of performance. Won the local Westchester prep over this track and distance with devastating ease. He's show pace versatility and that can come in handy. It will be curious to see if the public buys in after the 5-1 score, given the connections rarely seen in Grade 1 races.
8-DOPPELGANGER: Shocked Repo Rocks at 17-1 in the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct in April and has won all 3 starts since moving to high-percentage Maryland trainer Brittany Russell. Former Bob Baffert trainee was always well-meant, but never hit the big-time with success. He'll have to make another step forward to beat these.
9-WHITE ABARRIO: The Met Mile X-factor moves from trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. to Rick Dutrow, leaving one controversial barn for another. Dutrow recently returned from a 10-year suspension and this will be his first foray back in the big leagues. Joseph came under fire in Kentucky, negotiated for his status to run in New York, and the connections settled for moving last year's Florida Derby winner to a new stable for this contest. White Abarrio turned back to 1-turn racing at Gulfstream in March and ran one of the fastest races of his career to tune up for this. His third in last year's Cigar Mile while still age 3 indicates this certainly is within his scope.
Most Certain Exotics Contender:
CODY'S WISH is 12-for-12 in the trifecta lifetime.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
Four-year-olds have won this race 11 straight years, so if you're going to upset Cody's Wish, consider WHITE ABARRIO and ZANDON from the crop of 2019.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
Try to get to this race in daily doubles using favorite CARAVEL in Race 9, looking to expand the price on the potential upset pair to justify going against Cody's Wish. $50 daily doubles in Race 9-10 with CARAVEL to WHITE ABARRIO and ZANDON ($100).