One of our best hits of last year came in the Met Mile, but with a short field of only six in 2012 we are unlikely to replicate that success. You just cant hit big on six horse fields; period. The NYRA should be ashamed that on one of their biggest days of racing they have drawn only six for the Met and five for the Ogden Phipps. However, I digress. Let’s break down the field.
To Honor And Serve (Bernardini x Pilfer by Deputy Minister): Bay colt crushed Boys At Tosconova last out in the Grade 3 West Chester Handicap and has yet to be challenged going a flat mile. However, he has yet to face this caliber of competition going the distance. Today he runs into three Grade 1 winners and when push comes to shove I think they will get the best of him. Bill Mott trains for Jose Lezcano who figures to be very near the pace in the early stage of the race.
Shackleford (Forestry x Oatsee by Unbridled): He won last out in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs, so he is “back” right? Not so fast. He beat a lousy group of horses that included Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Amazombie, a gelding that I believe peaked at the absolute right time last fall and is on the way down. The same day a filly named Groupie Doll went faster than he did under nearly exact circumstances. This is a brave horse and a cool stallion prospect, but I’ll look elsewhere this time. John Velazquez gets up for the injured Jesus Castanon.
Caleb’s Posse (Posse x Abbey’s Miss by Slewacide): The 8-5 morning line favorite has just missed in both of his starts this year and probably would have won the Grade 1 Carter Handicap last out with just one more jump. It takes him so long to get cranked up, but once he starts running he swallows up everything in his sight. Today’s mile distance is a natural progression after racing at 6 and 7 furlongs. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile champ figures to do very well going a mile at Belmont Park. If he runs his best race the other five runners are in a world of trouble. Don Von Hemel trains and Rajiv Maragh retains the mount.
Caixa Eletronica (Arromanches x Edyta by Skip Away): This guy just doesn’t get the respect he deserves. The Todd Pletcher pupil won last out against a salty group in the $1 million Charles Town Classic and was third in this race a year ago. In between he hasn’t done much, but it is clear that he is still capable of summoning his best form. It would not shock or surprise to see him spring the upset and help bring back a nice Pick 4 payoff. The red hot Javier Castellano will be in the irons.
Jackson Bend (Hear No Evil x Sexy Stockings by Tobasco Cat): Most of us thought he was washed up after the Triple Crown, but he has found a new life as a sprinter. Since turning back in distance he has won four races, two of them Grade 1 events. The Nick Zito trained horse will be ridden by Corey Nakatani who will likely get first jump on Caleb’s Posse again. Can he hold him off this time? Your guess is as good as mine.
I’m not particularly wild about this race from a win standpoint, but if forced to make a win selection I would go with Jackson Bend. He offers a little bit more value than Caleb’s Posse and is a very similar horse on style and speed figures. From a Pick 4 perspective I’m likely to click the “ALL” button in this spot. Check back later to see my ticket, or check out my Twitter and Facebook pages. In the meantime, head over to Twinspires.com and claim your $100 sign up bonus.