Honor Code was a distant last down the backstretch, and the faster Power Broker and Bayern went up front, the better his position appeared.
Javier Castellano, a master at working out perfect trips, did it again Saturday in the Grade I, $1.25-million Met Mile. As Power Broker shot clear after 6 furlongs in a blazing 1:08.74, Castellano moved Honor Code to the far outside and let him roll. He surged down the middle of the track and drew off to a 3 3/4-length rout of 8-5 favorite Tonalist. It was the first loss in five starts at Belmont Park for last year's Belmont Stakes hero.
Honor Code paid $16.20 after a mile in a very quick 1:33.18 on a fast track. It was his fifth win in eight starts for trainer Shug McGaughey and co-owners Lane's End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm.
"I was a little concerned with how far back we were, but he kicked and the speed came back to him," McGaughey said. "It means a lot to win the Met Mile. It's a race I've held in high esteem for a long time."
Manhattan to Slumber
Slumber ($30.20) awakened from a 10-race losing streak in the Grade I Manhattan Stakes, the 1 1/4-mile turf race immediately before the Belmont. Trainer Chad Brown added blinkers, and the 7-year-old, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., responded with a 2 3/4-length win over Big Blue Kitten.
Around the track
Many racetrack novices in the huge crowd learned what hard-core handicappers know all too well: Anything can happen on the track, no matter how good a horse looks on paper.
Two heavy favorites, the previously unbeaten 3-year-old Competitive Edge and last year's 3-year-old filly champion, Untapable, were upset in the third and fifth races.
Competitive Edge, at odds of 2-5, finished last of six in the $500,000, Grade II Woody Stephens Stakes for 3-year-olds. He entered 4-for-4 for trainer Todd Pletcher. March ($22.80) nosed out fellow 10-1 shot Cinco Charlie after running 7 furlongs in 1:21.37.
Untapable, at 3-5 odds, never was a threat to front-running Wedding Toast, who beat her by five lengths in the $955,000, Grade I Ogden Phipps Stakes. Wedding Toast, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and ridden by Jose Lezcano, paid $6.30 after 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.21.
In another upset, Curalina ($16.40) overcame a poor start under John Velazquez to take the Grade I, $750,000 Acorn Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a neck over 30-1 By the Moon. Curalina ran a mile in 1:35.13 in her stakes debut for Pletcher.
In other undercard stakes: Channel Marker ($23.60) also burned favorite players in the Grade III, $300,000 Jaipur at 6 furlongs on a good turf course. Francisco Torres rode the Philip Bauer-trained winner, who was 0-for-8 since October 2013 . . . Coach Inge ($7.90) won the 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn Handicap, the dress rehearsal for the Belmont, by a neck over last year's Travers winner, V.E. Day. Pletcher trains Coach Inge, who was ridden by Velazquez, for Mike Repole.
Julien Leparoux stalked the pace before rallying Tepin ($11.20) to a half-length win for trainer Mark Casse in the Grade I, $700,000 Just a Game for fillies and mares at a mile on turf . . . Japan ($6.10), trained by Bill Mott, rallied wide for Junior Alvarado to beat only two 3-year-old rivals, both trained by Pletcher, in the $150,000 Easy Goer. Two scratches eliminated place and show betting.