The Met Mile: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

The Met Mile: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble
Photo: Eric Patterson/Eclipse Sportswire
The Memorial Day Met Mile (G1) at Belmont Park has drawn a small but extremely talented and contentious field. The six horses have battled with and beaten the best so many times that this feels like a prizefight, so "Let's get ready to rumble."
The field of six has five millionaires with combined earnings of just under $8,000,000 from 56 victories and 105 in the money finishes. Four of the six have won a grade one stake and the other two are claiming horses that have turned into multiple stakes winners.  Between them they have victories in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, the Preakness, the Ohio and Pennsylvania Derbies, the Carter, the Forego, the King’s Bishop, and the Cigar Mile. This group has won 16 graded stakes. Trainer Dale Romans said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a champion in this race.”
To Honor And Serve (3-1 morning line) is trained by the three-time Eclipse Award winning Hall of Famer Bill Mott. To Honor And Serve leads this field with five graded stakes wins. This son of Bernardini has won over $1 million with seven wins in 12 starts. To Honor And Serve is unbeaten at the mile distance (3/3) and on the Belmont Park track (2/2). Head to head he beat Caixa Eletronica in the Cigar Mile.  “He’s had two good works, and he seems to be looking good,” said Bill Mott in his usual understated way. “It looks like it’s a good race coming up. Nice horses here, without a doubt.”
Shackleford's (4-1 morning line) recent impressive win in the Churchill Downs (G2) over Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie ended a winless streak that dated back to his 2011 Preakness victory. Shackleford defeated Caleb’s Posse in the last year’s Indiana Derby and twice beat To Honor And Serve in Gulfstream Park Derby prep races. The leading money winner in the race has only run the mile distance once with a second place finish in Caleb’s Posse’s Breeders’ Cup win. Shack’s only start at Belmont was in the final leg of last year’s Triple Crown.
Millionaire Caleb's Posse (8-5 morning line favorite) will be making his first career start at Belmont Park.  He has two narrow losses this year at Aqueduct with the most recent coming to Jackson Bend in the Carter Handicap. Of course Caleb’s Posse won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.  He has twice beaten Shackleford and he topped To Honor And Serve in the Amsterdam at Saratoga last summer. His other victory at a mile was in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park in 2011.
Saginaw (10-1 morning line) was claimed by trainer David Jacobson for $30,000 on March 12th at Aqueduct and since then he has won four in a row including two New York-bred stakes. He has eight wins and 4 seconds at the mile distance and he has three wins at Belmont. The Met Mile represents a tremendous jump up in class and required a $10,000 supplemental nomination fee. Saginaw is also a main track only entry in the state-bred Kingston Stakes on Saturday at Belmont.
Caixa Eletronica (15-1 morning line), which means ATM or cash dispensing machine in Portuguese, was claimed for $62,500 by Repole Stables and five-time Eclipse winner Todd Pletcher. On April 14th, Caixa Eletronica won the $1,000,000 Charles Town Classic (G2) pushing his earnings over the $1 million barrier. He has four wins at the mile distance and he has one win at Belmont in four tries.
In his last race Jackson Bend (3-1 morning line) defeated Caleb’s Posse and Shackleford in the Carter. He also beat Caixa E. in the James Marvin last summer. Jackson Bend is the fourth millionaire in the Metropolitan. Jackson Bend has not won a race at Belmont in two tries and he is one for five at this mile distance.
When the dust settles after these grade one brawlers have battled I expect to see To Honor and Serve in the winner’s circle.  I feel that Caleb’s Posse and THAS are best suited to the mile distance. After the Westchester Mott described To Honor And Serve as a late developing colt that only now is reaching his potential. Coming down the stretch Caleb’s Posse and To Honor And Serve will do battle, but the talented THAS will come off the mat as the Metropolitan champion. 
Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently is a Senior Writer. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing

Matt has been a co-host of the popular weekly video show HorseCenter for many years.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Matt is also a partner in the New York Hot List handicapping service @NYHotList where he handicaps the races on the NYRA circuit everyday. The Hot List picks are available at several ADW sites around the country.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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