“They’re both short on experience but have shown major leaps forward from their first start to their second starts,” Bell said.
And Godolphin didn’t want start No. 3 to match the homebreds up, so trainer Michael Stidham scratched Mystic Guide from last weekend’s Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs — won by Maxfield — in favor of a softer spot.
The son of Ghostzapper has reemerged in a Thursday allowance race at Belmont Park going 1 1/16 miles.
“We’ll see where we go from there,” Bell said. “Look for a big performance, as we feel like he has shown some pretty good potential.”
Mystic Guide, who will have jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. traveling from Kentucky to ride, ran third on debut in a Fair Grounds maiden race at six furlongs on Feb. 15 before stretching to 1 1/16 miles March 21. He prevailed by five lengths days after the 2020 Kentucky Derby’s postponement to Sept. 5, igniting some high hopes.
“With the patient handling from Mike Stidham, he started him a shorter distance with eyes really on the two-turn race in which he excelled and supported what everyone thought they’d been seeing,” Bell said. “Until you see it in the afternoon, you’re just wondering. Breaking his maiden the way he did kind of served notice as to what his potential might be.”
From post six in a field of eight Thursday, Mystic Guide has a tough assignment. Among his competition are Tap It to Win, a Saratoga maiden winner who reasserted himself against fellow Florida-breds back on May 9, as well as Basiquat, a seven-furlong debut winner April 25 at Gulfstream Park for the Chad Brown barn.
Three others in the field — Informative, Famished and Country Grammer — boast graded stakes experience.
Stidham said that with a forward move, Mystic Guide could use Thursday's start as a springboard to the July 11 Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland or July 18 Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park.
Post time is 5:04 p.m. ET with Mystic Guide’s allowance carded as Race 8, one before the featured Tiller Stakes for older horses going 1 3/8 miles on the turf.