Handicapping the Belmont Stakes Undercard

Met Mile: Dutrow in Spotlight with White Abarrio after 10-Year Suspension

By US Racing Team

Rick Dutrow, Jr. did the time, and now he’s ready to shine again on racing’s biggest stage as he sends out White Abarrio to challenge Cody’s Wish in the $1 million Metropolitan Handicap (G1) on Saturday’s Belmont Stakes (G1) undercard.

The Met Mile, as it’s commonly called, is one of the most prestigious events on the stakes calendar and one of five Grade 1 races leading up to the final jewel of the Triple Crown.

We’ll offer a preview here of all five to whet your appetite for the main event, and hopefully fatten your wagering wallet.

Dutrow recently completed a 10-year suspension for multiple medication violations. He is årebuilding a stable that in the past included standouts like Big Brown and Saint Liam.

White Abarrio, last year’s Florida Derby (G1) winner, is a good start. He was transferred to Dutrow’s care from Saffie Joseph, Jr. when that trainer encountered his own suspension troubles after two of his horses died in the run-up to the Kentucky Derby (G1).

His debut for Dutrow is a demanding challenge, facing Cody’s Wish who dusted the competition in the Churchill Downs Stakes (G1) on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

It was another masterful job by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott to bring Cody’s Wish back in top form in his first race since dramatically winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last November.

Cody’s Wish will be the sentimental favorite in the race. He was named for wheelchair bound Cody Dorman who instantly bonded with the horse during a Make-A-Wish visit to Gainsborough Farm in Versailles, Kentucky.

And away we go with picks from The Professor:

$1 million Metropolitan Handicap (1 mile):

1 Cody’s Wish (7-5)

2 Charge It (6-1)

3 White Abarrio (10-1)

$750,000 Manhattan (1 ¼ miles, turf)

British trainer Charlie Appleby rarely misses when he targets a North American stakes race. Belmont’s Man O’ War (G1) last month was one of those infrequent misfires as Warren Point ran fifth as the 3-5 favorite following a sluggish start. The 4-year-old gelding has been training like a champ since then and should make amends.

As additional icing on the Manhattan cake, Appleby also sends out Ottoman Fleet, the winner of Belmont’s Fort Marcy Stakes (G2).

1 Warren Point (5-1)

2 Ottoman Fleet (5-2)

3 Highest Honors (20-1)

$500,000 Ogden Phipps (1 1/16 miles, fillies & mares)

The irrepressible Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, 87 years young, is still playing the game at the highest levels. He saddles Secret Oath, last year’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner, who has become a tough luck filly in her last two races, both Grade 1s, missing by the identical margin of a neck. It’s her time to turn the tables.

1 Secret Oath (2-1)

2 Clairiere (6-5)

3 Played Hard (6-1)

$400,000 Jaipur (6 furlongs, turf)

Grass sprints often produce exciting wide-open scrambles, and the Jaipur should be no exception.

We’re looking for Casa Creed, winner of this race last year, to benefit from a potentially hot pace that could play ideally into his late-running style. The speed target figures to be Caravel, the tremendously talented racemare who carries a four-race winning streak into the contest including the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) last November where she defeated Casa Creed. Caravel will dictate the fractions; Casa Creed will look to pick up the pieces.

1 Casa Creed (9-2)

2 Caravel (3-1)

3 Nothing Better (8-1)

$400,000 Woody Stephens Stakes (7 furlongs, 3-year-olds)

This is the other Grade 1 stakes for 3-year-olds on the card. While the Belmont is a demanding 1 1/2 miles, the Woody Stephens is a brisk 7-furlong contest. Several of the horses in the field will be shortening up from longer distances and no one looks better poised to benefit from the change than Gun Pilot.

Arabian Lion finally put it all together to win the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard. This will be much tougher.

1 Gun Pilot (20-1)

2 Arabian Lion (4-1)

2 General Jim (7-2)

2023 Belmont Stakes Contenders, Odds and Post Positions

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Tapit Shoes 3-1 Brad H. Cox Jose Ortiz
2 Tapit Trice 3-1 Todd A. Pletcher Luis Saez
3 Arcangelo 8-1 Jena M. Antonucci Javier Castellano
4 National Treasure 5-1 Bob Baffert John R. Velazquez
5 Il Miracolo 30-1 Antonio Sano Marcos Meneses
6 Forte 5-2 Todd A. Pletcher Irad Ortiz, Jr.
7 Hit Show 10-1 Brad H. Cox Manuel Franco
8 Angel of Empire 7-2 Brad H. Cox Flavien Prat
9 Red Route One 15-1 Steve M. Asmussen Joel Rosario
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