05/28/2011 10:37AM

Looking at the Met Mile


Whether it is because it represents a true middle ground for a rare battle between top-notch classic distance types shortening up and high class sprinters stretching out, or whether it is because it is the big event on the holiday weekend that marks the unofficial beginning of my favorite season, the Met Mile has always been one of my very favorite races. For me, the Met Mile (I always call it that, not the Metropolitan) ranks right up there with the Kentucky Derby, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Travers, the Santa Anita Handicap, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Monday’s 119th running of the Met Mile might not have attracted one of its best fields ever. But what it lacks in terms of star power, it makes up for as an intriguing betting race. Let’s take a look at the field, in post position order:

Soaring Empire – There is very little wrong with his form at the distance, especially his win in the Hal’s Hope three starts back. Makes his first start in 2 ½ months, but he has run big fresh before, so that doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is his rail draw, because he will likely get shuffled back early, and it’s not like he’s that much better than these that he can concede position. I also wonder if he’ll be able to transfer his sharp winter Gulfstream form to another track, because there have been several horses who haven’t.

Stormy’s Majesty – The first of four New York breds in this race, I doubt he’ll be much more than an early factor.

Rodman – This will be his third well-spaced start after a 14 month absence. He’s reaching here.

Aikenite – I always liked this horse a bit. He was even in my Triple Crown fantasy league last year, so I find it amusing that he has finally arrived with Grade 2 sprint stakes wins in his last two starts. I found nothing funny about his win in the Churchill Downs Stakes last time out, because he nosed the horse I needed, Apriority. Feelings aside, however, he capitalized on an outside bias at Churchill, so I’m taking a stand against.

Caixa Eletronica – Turned in the best race of his career upsetting the Westchester most recently first start off the Mike Repole/Todd Pletcher claim. I’m not sure where that effort came from since it was his 41st career start. But that win was strong, at the distance, over the track, so he should be included in exotics.

Yawanna Twist – New York bred #2, it seems like he’s searched his whole career for his proper niche, and I suspect being a miler might be it. But I also suspect that he’s not quite good enough for this, although I would throw him in underneath in exotics.

Ibboyee – The third New York bred in the line up was a fast closing third in the Churchill Downs Stakes, beaten only a half-length by Aikenite. But he also rode the outside bias, so I’m going against.

Haynesfield – The last and definitely best New York bred in the field, he was a big disappointment when a tired fourth in the Westchester at 4-5. That was his first start in five months, but he had a history of running well fresh, and after all, this is the horse who clobbered subsequent Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame when he ran away with the Jockey Club Gold Cup last fall. But we know this horse is capable of much better, and he’ll be a much more palatable price this time, so he’s a must use.

Kensei – I thought this horse would go on to serious things after he put together consecutive wins in the Dwyer and Jim Dandy in his 3-year-old campaign, but it never panned out. In fact, he’s 5 now, and is still looking for his first win since the ’09 Jim Dandy. Pass.

Tackleberry – He had just a tremendous meet at Gulfstream winning the Sunshine Millions Classic, the Gulfsftream Sprint Championship, and the Gulfstream Handicap at respective distances of nine, seven, and eight furlongs. I wouldn’t hold his loss most recently in the three-turn Charles Town Classic against him, and he is first time Lasix on Monday. I could be wrong, but I have this nagging feeling that he fired his best shots in Florida, and won’t be as effective elsewhere.

Tizway – I liked this horse in Tackleberry’s Gulfstream Park Handicap (a race in which Soaring Empire finished second) and he ran well to be third, beaten a neck for all the money, off a four month layoff. He also ran respectably when third in the Charles Town Classic while going nine furlongs, which is a bit beyond his best game. He now returns to the track on which he ran huge winning the Kelso Handicap at the distance last fall while being primed for his best third start off the layoff. My pick to win.

nooch More than 1 year ago
I Like Caixa Eletronica. Gets first run on horses and now that Chrstmas for Liam ran flat maybe it took the same affect on Haynesfield. Gets the lead and holds off closers late. I also love Cozy Rosie.
Dave or Divot80 More than 1 year ago
The fact that this is a ONE TURN mile race is what always makes this contest so intriquing. Can the sprinters carry it as to can the stayers rev up in time? HMMMM! Divot80
Affirmed 3 More than 1 year ago
Aikenite is the now horse and is sharp as a tack, his win in the Alysheba was awesome, there is alot of speed signed up for this renewal to set up Aikenite and his stretch kick. Haynes Field is a horse for course and can't be overlooked, he might just run them off their feet and steal the race. Soaring Empire is the dark horse, he has been freshened and I look for a big effort today from this son of Empire Maker. Tackleberry ran his best race's in Florida and will not be a factor. Tizway is as consistant as they come and will be there at the finish with that stalking style that will suit him well today. Don't be surprised to see him posing in the winners circle. JMO
Affirmed 3 More than 1 year ago
I'm going to switch up the conversation and go to Hollywood Park and the Grade 1 Gamely, Cozy Rosie gets equal weight as Malibu Player on Monday and she will turn the tables on Malibu, Mike Smith is very high on Cozy Rosie and indicated we have not seen her best yet. Cozy Rosie on top with Malibu Player second and Turning Top to take third........... JMO
Nolan More than 1 year ago
MW, AIKENITE will relish the extra furlong and is already proven at a mile at Belmont. The choice.
BF More than 1 year ago
Mike, do you remember the 1986 Met Mile? Best field of older horses I've ever seen. Garthorn-Love That Mac-Lady's Secret ran 1-2-3. Turkoman was 4th as a fast closing favorite. Also off the board were Smile (who went on to win that year's BC Sprint) and Proud Truth, the previous Classic winner. They don't make fields like that any more.
meathead01 More than 1 year ago
Belmont Park Met Mile Soaring Empire been off 78 days and does run fresh although gr 1s are not his best class the two hes run at have resulted in 6th place finishes and think he wants something softer say gr 3 Aikenite velazquez is three for seven with this colt and is looking for the hat trick here is one for four at this distance and figures to come running late and looks to get a part of the money Caixa Eletronica has two in a row and looking for hat trick here huge beyers in last four races resulting in three wins look for this one to set just off the pace and make one run down the stretch for a part will use on bottom of tickets Haynesfield first back showed early speed and weakened late should improve off that run today look for this one to run on the pace and may be a tad short today will use on lower spots on ticket Tizway is the one to beat today has been in contention in all of his races will use on top and bottom of tickets today good luck all mh01