Top notch horses ready for Met Mile
Elmont, NY (Sports Network) - Six of the very best older thoroughbreds in training will take on one another in Memorial Day's $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap (Met Mile) at Belmont Park. The stakes received a purse boost of $250,000 over last year's edition.
The Met Mile, won last year by Tizway, is part the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" program where the winner of the race automatically gains entry into the Dirt Mile.
Trying to separate the six runners from each other will be extremely difficult as most have distinguished themselves over the last 17 months of racing.
Breaking from the inside post will be To Honor and Serve making his second start of the year. The four-year-old colt will have Jose Lezcano again riding for trainer Bill Mott and Live Oak Plantation.
In his initial 2012 start To and Honor Serve won the Westchester Handicap at Belmont Park on April 28 by 5 1/4 lengths. He closed 2011 with a win in the Cigar Mile in November after finishing seventh in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Winner of last year's Pennsylvania Derby, To and Honor Serve has earned $1,236,340 with seven wins in 12 career starts.
Next in the starting gate will be 2011 Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford. The chestnut colt gets the services of John Velazquez as rider and is trained by Dale Romans.
Owned by Michael Lauffer, the four-year-old has improved in each of his last two starts since beginning the year with a seventh in the Donn Handicap as the 3-1 favorite. Shackleford next finished third to Jackson Bend in the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct and came back to win the Churchill Downs Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day.
In 15 lifetime starts the colt has four wins and four seconds for nearly $2.3 million.
Caleb's Posse, 2011 Dirt Mile champ, has drawn post three with Rajiv Maragh again riding the colt. Trained by Donnie Von Hemel, Caleb's Posse is owned by McNeill Stables.
The four-year-old finished second in both starts this year, missing by a neck in the Tom Fool Handicap and a nose in the Carter at Aqueduct. The colt has banked $1,273,379 with eight wins in 18 career starts.
Working on a five race win streak is Saginaw who will break from post four with David Cohen slated to ride. Saginaw will be stepping up in class for the Met Mile after winning a pair of minor stakes this year at Belmont Park.
Trained and co-owned by David Jacobson, Saginaw has won 11 of 27 career starts for $449,990. The gelding is also entered in Sunday's Kingston Stakes at Belmont Park.
The most experienced horse in the field is Caixa Eletronica with 52 lifetime starts and 17 victories. Trained by Todd Pletcher for Mike Repole, the seven- year-old chestnut horse will be ridden by Javier Castellano from post five.
Caixa Eletronica is coming off a win in the $1 million Charles Town Classic and has banked $1,118,205.
Jackson Bend completes the field from the outside post with Corey Nakatani again riding. Nick Zito trains the five-year-old chestnut horse for Robert LaPenta.
Third in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint, Jackson Bend won the Carter Handicap last month after a third in the Gulfstream Park Handicap and a season opening victory in the Hal's Hope at Gulfstream Park.
A veteran of 25 career starts, Jackson Bend has earned $1,580,950 with nine lifetime wins.
Post-time for Monday's Met Mile is scheduled for 5:50 p.m. (et).
05/25 17:35:25 ET