05/29/2011 9:25AM

Met Mile highlights Memorial Day racing slate


We don't have to wait for the last leg of the Triple Crown for a big stakes race at Belmont. This Monday the Breeders' Cup Challenge series comes to town for the Met Mile, with a spot in the Dirt Mile at stake -- as well a $500,000 purse. Top contenders include Caixa Eletronica and Aikenite.

Here is the rundown for the top Memorial Day stakes races across the country:

Race Track Grade Purse Conditions Get PPs
 Metropolitan (Met Mile)  Belmont 1 $500K  3-year-olds & up, 8F
 Gamely Stakes  Hollywood Park 1 $250K  3-year-olds & up, 9F, Turf
 Lone Star Handicap  Lone Star Park 3 $300K  3-year-olds & up, 1 1/16M
 Lone Star Derby  Lone Star Park -- $200K  3-year-olds, 1 1/16M, Turf
 Sands Point Stakes  Belmont 2 $150K  3-year-olds, 1 1/16M
 Violet Stakes  Monmouth 3 $150K  3-year-olds & up, 8.5F, Turf
 Los Angeles Handicap  Hollywood Park 3 $100K  3-year-olds & up, 6F
 Skip Away Stakes  Monmouth -- $75K  3-year-olds & up, 8.5F
All Race Entries | Complete Stakes Schedule | DRF Picks

Race Previews, Headlines

Met Mile: Race a truer test for familiar rivals Tizway and Tackleberry
Tizway and Tackleberry may have been out of their comfort zones in the 1 1/8-mile Charles Town Classic. Monday, both horses return to what they probably do best when they meet for the third straight time in the Grade 1, $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap.

Gamely: Malibu Pier faces familiar rivals at Hollywood
Malibu Pier won consecutive turf stakes at Santa Anita in March and April, an accomplishment that has not scared the losers of those races from Monday’s $250,000 Gamely Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Lone Star Handicap: Game On Dude much improved since last visit to Texas
Game On Dude was just a maiden winner a year ago when he shipped to Texas and won the Lone Star Derby. Monday, he returns to town as one of the nation’s top older horses. Game On Dude has shipped in from Southern California for the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap. The 1 1/16-mile race is both the richest offering of the meet and the annual anchor of the Lone Star Million Day card of six stakes worth a collective $1 million.

Lone Star Derby: Uncle Sam tries turf for first time
Trainer Bob Baffert has had a stranglehold on the Lone Star Derby since winning its inaugural running in 1997 with Anet. But for the first time this year, the race will have a new look. The $200,000 Lone Star Derby has been moved to turf after losing its Grade 3 status for 2011.

Met Mile: Haynesfield could go favored
Despite his fourth-place finish as the 4-5 favorite in the Westchester here on April 30, Haynesfield could go off a lukewarm favorite in the Met Mile. In the Westchester, his first start in five months, Haynesfield raced too close to a hot early pace and retreated late, finishing 4 1/2 lengths behind upset winner Caixa Eletronica.

Lone Star: Trainer Asmussen has hopefuls for Handicap, Derby
Asmussen has starters in three of this year’s Million Day stakes, chief among them Thiskyhasnolimit in the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap. Asmussen’s other stakes starters will be Expansion in the $150,000 Dallas Turf Cup and Awesome Bet in the $200,000 Lone Star Derby.

Met Mile: Expected favorite Morning Line won't run
Morning Line, winner of the Grade 1 Carter Handicap last month at Aqueduct, will not run in the Met Mile because of a foot issue, trainer Nick Zito said. A large field is expected for the Memorial Day feature, including Aikenite, Caixa Eletronica, Haynesfield, Ibboyee, Kensei, Rodman, Soaring Empire, Stormy’s Majesty, Tackleberry, and Tizway.

Lone Star Handicap: Game On Dude headed to Lone Star Park
Game On Dude will come into the Lone Star Handicap off a runner-up finish in the Grade 3, $1 million Charles Town Classic on April 16.

Flat Out under consideration for the Lone Star Handicap or Met Mile
Flat Out, a stakes winner who won a $40,000 optional claiming allowance route at Fair Grounds in his last start Dec. 5, has been training forwardly at Churchill Downs and is being considered for a start in the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap on May 30, said his trainer, Charles “Scooter” Dickey.

Gamely Stakes: Race could draw top two from Santa Barbara
Malibu Pier and Cozi Rosie, one-two finishers April 16 in the Grade 2 Santa Barbara at Santa Anita, are among 13 nominees for the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes that will be run May 30. Blind Luck was nominated to the Gamely, but plans currently call for her to run June 18 in the Grade 1 Vanity on the main track.

Lone Star Handicap: Awesome Gem to be back for Handicap on Million Day
Awesome Gem, who parlayed a runner-up finish in last year’s Lone Star Park Handicap to victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup, has both of those races on his agenda again this summer, said his trainer, Craig Dollase. The first part of the double comes Monday. Awesome Gem is headed to Texas for this year’s Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap, the richest of six stakes to be run on the annual Million Day program. The horse’s plans were firmed up Tuesday after he breezed five furlongs in a smart 1:00.80 at Churchill Downs.