An outstanding field of eight will square off in Saturday’s $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park. The winner of the loaded event will receive a direct berth into the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) as part of the “Win and You’re In” challenge series.

Met Mile Analysis

The pace of the Met Mile figures to be swift. #7 Mr Freeze and #8 Warrior’s Charge will be sent from the outside, while #2 Vekoma and #3 McKinzie will also be close in the early stages. I expect the winner to come from off of the early tempo.

Met Mile Contenders

#1 NETWORK EFFECT — Three-time graded stakes placed colt exits a runner-up performance in the Carter H. (G1) on the oval. Chestnut son of Mark Valeski has posted hefty BRIS Speed figures in two straight, but he will need a career-best effort to take down this fine field. Irad Ortiz has the call.

#2 VEKOMA — Candy Ride colt has paired up huge efforts from two outings in 2020, led by a 7 1/4-length romp in the Carter most recently. Kentucky-bred is two-for-two on the course and could have more room for improvement in his third assignment of this campaign. Weaver pupil will have Javier Castellano riding.

#3 MCKINZIE — West Coast import is consistently very good and comes off a fine triumph in the Triple Bend (G2) for Baffert. Street Sense 5-year-old has been first or second 14 times in 16 lifetime tries, which includes a fine second in the race in 2019. Mike Smith will be up atop the stalker.

#4 HOG CREEK HUSTLE — Overanalyze colt bagged the 2019 Woody Stephens (G1) in his lone local showing for Vickie Foley. Strong late runner had a solid prep for this when second best in an allowance heat at Churchill Downs, but he will need a big step forward to run by this field inside the final furlong. Jose Ortiz gets the call.

#5 CODE OF HONOR — 4-year-old from the McGaughey barn is a two-time Grade 1 hero who has compiled a nifty 4-3-1-0 mark at Belmont Park. Noble Mission chestnut kicked off this season with a good tally in the Westchester, and improvement is fully expected in his second outing off the shelf. John Velazquez will guide the top pick.

#6 ENDORSED — Medaglia d’Oro colt has been in good form this campaign and comes off a runner-up showing in the Westchester last out. Godolphin homebred is versatile and will likely be running from off the pace on Saturday with Joel Rosario in the silks.

#7 MR FREEZE — Speedy Romans charge has won or placed in six consecutive graded stakes events in preparation for the Met Mile. To Honor and Serve 5-year-old has run two of his best races at today’s distance, and he could receive a nice trip while always forwardly placed. Manny Franco will be in the stirrups.

#8 WARRIOR’S CHARGE — Munnings colt was last seen finishing second in the Oaklawn H. (G2) for conditioner Brad Cox. Dark bay colt has been sharp in two assignments this campaign, and the potential pacesetter could move forward third time back. Florent Geroux gets the nod atop the top-three contender.

Met Mile Wagers

  • $20 Win and Place: #5 Code of Honor ($40)
  • $1 Trifecta: 5 with 1,2,3 with all ($18)