Flightline headed for the finish line at Belmont Park with room to spare, living up to the advertising.
The 154th running of the Belmont Stakes was the main event Saturday, but there were 12 other races on the card. The $1 million Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap, a.k.a. the Met Mile, a Grade 1 race on dirt for 3-year-olds and up, featured a well-regarded, undefeated 4-year-old competing for the first time this year after a minor injury.
Flightline sped by Speaker’s Corner on the final turn. Jockey Flavien Prat took the favorite to a six-length win over Happy Saver. Speaker’s Corner placed third in the five-horse race.
“We’re just thrilled to have an undefeated horse, who won easy again,” trainer John Sadler said. “Things didn’t really go well for him early in the race. He suffered from a slow start because of the one post. Then he got cut off a little bit going down the backside. … He overcame trouble. That’s the storyline.
“… Winning the Met Mile is so gratifying. It’s such a historic race and a stallion-making race, and he’s all of those things. He’s the whole package.”
This horse arrived with three wins in three tries, all last year in California. Add up the margins of his four victories and the total comes to 43 1/2 lengths.
“It seems the sky is limitless,” Prat said, "and it’s been a real pleasure.”
Big scratch in The Acorn
Echo Zulo was the favorite for The Acorn, a Grade 1 mile race on dirt for 3-year-old fillies. But she became a late scratch for the 92nd running.
“She looked a little bit off, and they decided to scratch her,” jockey Joel Rosario said.
Dr. Anthony Verderosa, who’s the director of NYRA veterinarians, said, “The filly was lame in her front foot.”
So it turned out to be a four-horse race. Matareya won it by 6 1/4 lengths.
Fearless in Brooklyn
The Grade 2 Brooklyn for 4-year-olds and up went to Todd Pletcher-trained Fearless by 2 3/4 lengths.
Casa Creed, partly owned by former WFAN host Mike Francesa, won the Grade 1 Jaipur for 3-year-olds and up. Jack Christopher took the Grade 1 Woody Stephens for 3-year-olds. Clairiere claimed the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps for fillies and mares 4 and up.