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Post Time: Met Mile heads up big Belmont undercard

ELMONT – The Belmont Stakes undercard once again will deliver one of racing’s biggest days.

Saturday’s card will feature nine graded stakes in total, including the eight consecutive Grade 1 races and one Grade 2 race. The 151st running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, presented by NYRA Bets, is scheduled to go to post at 6:37 p.m. early Saturday evening.

Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. EDT on NBCSN and commences at 4 p.m. on NBC.

A new, fun two-day wager starting on Friday will debut covering six races. The $0.20 Belmont Stakes Festival Pick Six bet will start on Friday with the Grade 2 True North (Race 8) and the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup (Race 10). The remaining four races will be the races making up the Pick-4 into the Belmont Stakes on Saturday (Races 8-11). It will be interesting to see the handle generated in this innovative two-day option.

Belmont Stakes Day will feature the following wagers:

  • $500,000 Guaranteed Pick 5 begins on Race 1 (post time 11:35 a.m.)
  • $500,000 Guaranteed Pick 6 begins on Race 6 (post time 2:41 p.m.)
  • $1.5 million Guaranteed Pick 4 begins on Race 8 (4:04 p.m.) and concludes with Race 11, the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.

Race 4 – Grade 1 Just a Game (Post Time: 1:22 p.m.)

Light field of seven fillies and mares will run a mile on the Widener turf course. 4-Rushing Fall (4-5) is the heavy favorite for trainer Chad Brown. The son of More Than Ready is 7-for-8 in his career and won his debut over the Belmont turf. 3-Beau Recall (4-1) comes off her upset win in the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill for Brad Cox. 5-Capla Temptress (20-1) is a live longshot. [Updated 6/8 after scratch of Got Stormy]

Selections: 1 – Rushing Fall; 2 – Beau Recall; 3 – Capla Temptress 

Race 5 – Grade 1 Ogden Phipps (Post Time: 2:01 p.m.)

2-Midnight Bisou (Even) looks for her third straight win on the year, and fourth in a row with Money Mike Smith aboard. She’s been working impressively at Churchill. 1-Come Dancing (6-5) is the horse for the course and the main threat to Bisou. 4-Escape Clause (9-2) was right there getting beat a nose by the favorite in the Apple Blossom.

Selections: 1 – Midnight Bisou; 2 – Come Dancing; 3 – Escape Clause

Race 6 – Grade 1 Jaipur Invitational S. (Post Time: 2:41 p.m.)

Looking for an upset in the Jaipur with 7-Belvoir Bay (5-1) who had an excuse last out after a big effort in Dubai. 8-World of Trouble (Even) has done nothing wrong in the current campaign and warrants the favorite role. Christophe Clement’s 6-Disco Partner (5-2) loves the Belmont turf winning 9-of-14 attempts with two placings.

Selections: 1 –Belvoir Bay; 2 – World of Trouble; 3 – Disco Partner

Race 7 – Grade 1 Acorn S. (Post Time: 3:22 p.m.)

It could be a chalk-fest by this point in the day, but if you want to take a shot at a vulnerable favorite in 1-Serengeti Empress (5-2) the one-mile Acorn may be the spot. Lightly raced 9-Ce Ce (9-2) ships in for California trainer Mike McCarthy, trainer of City of Light. She comes off two big efforts at Santa Anita and has and a bullet workout on her morning tab.  Jose Ortiz jumps off a solid horse in 3-Cookie Dough (6-1) to ride 7-Guarana (2-1), who is the steam horse after an impressive maiden debut win at Keeneland.

Selections: 1 – Ce Ce 2 –Guarana; 3 – Cookie Dough; 4-Serengeti Empress 

Race 8 – Grade 1 Woody Stephens S. (Post Time: 4:04 p.m.)

The 7-furlong Stephens named after the record-setting trainer who won five Belmont Stakes in a row from 1982 to 1986 is a competitive affair for 11 three-year-old colts running seven furlongs. 1-Honest Mischief (6-1) comes off a career best maiden breaking effort for Chad Brown at Keeneland and will be a nice price. 9-Mind Control (5-2) was briefly on the Derby trail for Greg Sacco, has Johnny V in the irons on the Stay Thirsty colt. The ever dangerous Asmussen-Santana Jr. combination will try and crash the party at odds of 10-1 with 6-Nitrous, an improving son of Tapit.

Selections: 1 – Honest Mischief; 2 – Mind Control; 3 – Nitrous 

Race 9 – Grade 1 Metropolitan H. (Post Time: 4:46 p.m.)

A contentious Met Mile is likely the best race on the card with some big time names and connections in the race. 2-McKinzie (5-2) is the top-rated horse in the weekly NTRA poll. 1-Coal Front (6-1) was impressive winning the Godolphin Mile on Dubai World Cup night for Todd Pletcher. Speaking of the Dubai World Cup, two-time winner 4-Thunder Snow (5-1) has looked terrific since arriving here and is the ex-factor in the race. 7-Firenze Fire (4-1) comes in third off the layoff off a win over the Belmont track for Jason Servis and has Irad in the irons.

Selections: 1 – McKinzie; 2 – Thunder Snow; 3 – Coal Front; 4 – Firenze Fire 

Race 10 – Grade 1 Manhattan S. (Post Time: 5:36 p.m.)

He makes it interesting in every race he’s in, but 8-Bricks and Mortar (7-5) looks to be the class of the field for turf conditioner Chad Brown. 4-Qurbaan (8-1) will be a price for a red hot Kiaran McLaughlin (9-3-3-0 in last 14 days). 10-Channel Maker (9-2) has run well over the Belmont turf and comes off a win in the Man O’War. The best of the other Chads is 1-Raging Bull (10-1) with Javy in the saddle, he comes in third off the layoff.

Selections: 1 – Bricks and Mortar; 2 – Qurbaan; 3 – Channel Maker; 4 – Raging Bull

Be sure to check Saturday’s print edition for my Belmont Stakes preview.

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.

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