The Grade I Metropolitan Handicap, better known as the Met Mile, always has been considered a race whose winners make top sires. Considering that only a nose separated runner-up Mind Your Biscuits from Bee Jersey on Saturday, both could have fine futures as stallions.
Mind Your Biscuits, a multiple-stakes winner trained by Long Island native Chad Summers, just missed catching front-running Bee Jersey and Ricardo Santana Jr. The time around one turn at Belmont Park was an excellent 1:33.13.
Steve Asmussen, No. 2 all-time with more than 8,000 wins, trains Bee Jersey, who paid $8.50. He earned $650,000 of the $1.2-million purse for Charles Fipke.
“We all know what that race means,” Asmussen said. “For the owner to have bred him and run him, what a source of pride.”
Summers was pretty proud of his horse, too. “He shows up every time,” he said. “I think he showed them he could get a mile.”
Baffert has winners on undercard stakes too
A year ago, trainer Bob Baffert didn’t have a horse in the Belmont Stakes but grabbed headlines anyway by going 4-for-4 in undercard stakes at Belmont. He got rolling right away Saturday, when last year’s Kentucky Oaks heroine, Abel Tasman, dominated the Grade I Ogden Phipps by 7½ lengths under Mike Smith. She paid $4.
“Last year she was part of the Baffert tour de force,” Baffert said. “She’s a champion, and you want to see a champion run like that.”
Two races later, Baffert struck in the Brooklyn Handicap, the 1½-mile dress rehearsal for the Belmont, with 7-year-old Hoppertunity ($9.10) and jockey Flavien Prat. The margin was 2¼ lengths.
Abel Tasman and Hoppertunity rebounded from fourth-place finishes at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby weekend.
“Hoppertunity is like the forgotten horse,” Baffert said. “The stud farms aren’t calling to buy him even though he’s made all this money ($4.7 million), so we’re just having fun with him.”
Last year, trainer Graham Motion scored with 27-1 shot Ascend in the Grade I, $1-million Manhattan Stakes. Motion did it again Saturday in the 1¼-mile turf race as Spring Quality ($38) and Edgar Prado came flying late on the wide outside to beat Sadler’s Joy by a quarter-length.
Around the track
Defending champion Disco Partner ($5.10) rallied to win by a length in the Grade III Jaipur, zipping 6 furlongs on firm turf in 1:06.74 for Irad Ortiz Jr. and trainer Christophe Clement . . . Still Having Fun ($28) surged late under Joel Rosario to take the 7-furlong, Grade II Woody Stephens, named for the trainer who won five consecutive Belmonts from 1982-86, It was Maryland-based trainer Timothy Keefe’s first graded-stakes win . . . Trainer Chad Brown’s Raving Beauty ($9.20) rallied to score for Ortiz by three-quarters of a length in the Grade I Just a Game for fillies and mares . . . Monomoy Girl ($3.20), this year’s Kentucky Oaks winner, coasted by two lengths under Florent Geroux in the Grade I Acorn. It was her fourth straight win for trainer Brad Cox, and she’s a neck away from being 7-for-7 lifetime.