05/29/2008 12:00AM

Metropolitan Handicap Preview


Monday, May 26, 2008
Belmont Park - Race 10
1 Mile
Metropolitan Handicap (Grade 1)
3-year-olds and upward
Purse $600,000.

DIVINE PARK may finally cash in on his potential in the Met Mile. After winning his first three lifetime starts last year culminating with a score in the Grade 3 Withers, it seemed the sky was the limit for this son of Chester House. Unfortunately, his campaign was derailed by injury, and he didn't look like the same runner when finishing up the track in the Grade 1 Malibu over cushion track, and the Grade 2 General George at Laurel. Since being stretched out to middle distances, however, Divine Park has gotten back on track. He hammered optional claiming foes two back at Aqueduct, then whipped the solid Grasshopper in the local prep for the Met Mile, the Grade 3 Westchester Handicap. Divine Park has decent tactical speed, and can sit another nice trip stalking the speedy COMMENTATOR. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has remained hot throughout 2008, and his Divine Park seems poised for another good effort in the Met.
COMMENTATOR is an all-or-nothing sort, but when he's allowed to hear his feet rattle on the front end, he's a very dangerous foe. The veteran gelding has done nothing wrong in 2008, and he absolutely drilled weaker Grade 2 foes in the Richter Scale Handicap last time out at Gulfstream. He's the one to catch and beat in the Metropolitan, but he won't offer much wagering value.
PREMIUM WINE had a troubled trip when third in the General George, and he was running late going seven furlongs in the Carter. While this is his route debut, he should be comfortable at a one-turn mile, and would really appreciate a hot pace up front.
LORD SNOWDON is also a consistent, late-running sprinter that would be aided if someone goes with Commentator early. He does own a one-turn mile win at Aqueduct. GLOBAL HUNTER ran well in his North American debut over Hollywood's cushion track in the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap, but will take a big step up here. Z HUMOR is a three-year-old tackling elders, and he hasn't won since dead-hitting for first in the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot, a spot that turned out to be a negative key race. FIRST DEFENCE looms an interesting upset candidate. He finished a good second to Hard Spun in the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga last year, and began his 2007 campaign with a good prep win at Churchill Downs. He may be the first to tackle Commentator on the turn, and shouldn't be ignored in exotic wagers. KISS THE KID would appreciate a wet track, but his best races have come when allowed to race near the front. The presence of Commentator may force Kiss the Kid to change tactics. COUNCIL MEMBER has found stakes foes too tough to handle since shipping to North American last year.

1. Divine Park
2. Commentator
3. Premium Wine