The Metropolitan Handicap – Grade I
BEL Race #10 1m Dirt Graded Stake
Purse $1,200.000 For Three Year Olds And Upward.
1 Edwin Drood Night Rider Stables Maragh R 121
With just 3 Lbs from the top to the bottom of this handicap it bears absolutely no resemblance to a ‘handicap’ but that will suit the better horses here and this is certainly one of them. Bought from Sanny Village after out dear deceased players sister decided to let Night Rider purchase him he remains one of the most talked about horses in the game. His last big win came over a year ago when taking the CT Classic and whilst he has placed in the very best company he has only managed the two wins since at grade three level. The fact that many think this is one of the greats of HRP and yet he still at the age of five has not won a grade one something which has to be taken seriously in such a stellar field. He certainly has the ability to win this but i can see a closing third or fourth rather than a win
2 Seminole On The Map Racing Rosario J 120
There arent too many pure bred autogens around in the game but the few there are arent doing too bad and this is one of them. Lightly raced with only 13 starts he has been very consistent throughout his career but he has never won a graded stakes which makes his 120Lbs quite surprising and a tough burden to carry. His last start in a muddy CD over 7 furlongs nearly changed that record going down by just a nose in a very good effort suggesting that any rain around will certainly help his chances. He has been in good form this year and is working well so from this draw i can see him getting on the pace and sticking around for a long time.
3 Copper Opus Big Guns Stables Castellano J J 121
This five year old was a KYD contender back in his three year old days but like most four year olds found that age tough to follow up on his good three year old form. Turning five he has been in better form this year winning the Hardacre Mile Handicap and whilst he isnt the sort that has got a following he is a tough handicapper who will be right in the thick of the race. He has a tough weight to carry but his running style suits the draw and he has a chance of snagging some prize money.
4 Stranger D J C Racing Stables Ortiz I Jr 119
Another bought from Sanny Villages sister this will be the first start for him in a new stable and he certainly rates a big chance especially carrying just 119Lbs. The key for him may be rain because who could forget his dazzling eleven length win in the Alysheba last year when recording a speed figure of 105. Even without rain he is useful as he proved on fast ground in the New Orleans handicap last time out when only beaten a half length. Rain is the key here though between a winning chance and a place chance. He was a very close fifth in this race last year carrying the same weight.
5 Heez On Fire Aml Racing Pennington F 120
One of the few grade one winners in the race he took the Awesome Again last year but has struggled a bit since. Looking at his bare form figures you may think he is an inconsistent type but he has run pretty well since without finding the winners circle again. A 1.36 flat work suggests he retains that grade one ability and if things go right for him today he may just be the dark horse.
6 Awesome Indeed TwinTowersRacing Lanerie C J 120
A fairly consistent sort in handicap company he has some nice runs under his belt but may struggle a bit at this level with a fairly hefty weight considering his achievements. His best recent effort was in the Hardcare Mile Handicap when he was a close second to Copper Opus with Heez On Fire and Caught Stealing behind but he carried much less weight that day and has risen pretty sharply in the handicap. He is in the mix for sure but may find a few too good at the end.
7 Caught Stealing Sir Daniel Martin Bejarano R 121
He doesnt win too often but when he does he does it in style as he showed on an off track last time out when easily winning the Alysheba. He is a tough one to weigh up here and with joint top weight its easy to overlook him but i rather like his chances. He ran from a terrible draw in the Hardacre Mile Handicap in his previous race and ran very well to be third just a length off of Copper Opus and proved how important the draw is last time out when turning the tables with Awesme Again with ease. His works arent the flashiest but a horse in winning form is always worth taking a second look at.
8 Crop Duster Mb Stables Gallardo A A 120
He was bought from Barcelona Farms for $600 last year but despite going to the champion trainers barn has not managed a win in his last seven starts. I liked his second in the TRiple Bend but he was pretty terrible on an off track last time out and he may well be a wet scratch if the rains come. If this horse ran to his potential he would win but he is very hit and miss.
9 Lucky Star Smokey Stover Arroyo A S 119
Another that disappointed on an off track last time he ran an excellent race to be second in the Carter Handicap at grade one the time before and like Crop Duster his chances may be relying on the weather. One of the fastest recent workers he went under 1.36 for the mile in March and whilst 4 wins from 18 races doesn’t look much he has improved significantly recently.
10 Spring Lover Mb Stables Velazquez J R 118
Mb Stables is a master of getting very good horses into handicaps with very little weight and he has done it again here with this dual grade one winner. There must be some way to work it out but i cant for the life of me but what remains is a very good horse ona very competitive handicap mark. Fifth in the 2016 KYD and 4th in the Preakness he was also third in the BC Classic that year. As a four year old he won the grade one Carter Handicap and was only beaten a head in the grade one Forego and whilst his trainer has been gentle with him so far this year running ina TAM Allowance on debut he will now be sharp enough to add another grade one to his record.
11 Silver Dancer Night Rider Stables Bridgmohan S X 120
This ten race winner and the winner of this race last year carrying the same weight has run some great races over the years and may turn out to be the biggest danger to Spring Lover. He has always shown plenty of sprint ability but was also good enough to see out a mile and a quarter when a hard closing third in the Pacific Classic last year. His works are good enough and we know he has plenty of ability despite a couple of ordinary runs in his last two.
12 State Police Smokey Stover Alvarado J 121
This will be real interesting as this son of Cherokee Sunset was bought for a thousand dollars recently and to most people that looked a little high. With just the one grade three win he hasnt achieved an awful lot but that win came last time out in the TX Mile and he recorded a fast winning time. Since then he worked a sub 1.36 but for some reason despite just the one graded stakes win he has been lumped with joint top weight. The draw and the weight may be enough to stop him paying back too much of the purchase price today.
13 Larry L Lavender NorthernTraderStable Garcia Alan 120
Claimed back in February he has run a couple of nice races since ib better company bt may find this a little too much. His win record of 11 from 25 suggest he is better than the race he was claimed from and his close second in the Westchester last time notably finishing in front of Edwin Drood and Heez On Fire suggests a win wouldnt be a big shock. The draw will be tough for him but he is running into goof form and has wet track form should things get muddy.
14 Made To Sin John Henry Albarado R J 120
This horse has been terribly inconsistent over the years winning just 5 from 22 starts but he has always promised so much more. If it rains he could be a contender for last oi he runs, if it stays dry then he could easily be a contender for some of this generous purse.
16 Charley Cowgirl Fractious – Also Eligible – 119
17 Hooligans Holiday Threshold – Also Eligible – 118
Well as always this is a tough race to sum up but its hard to ignore the handicap mark that Spring lover has achieved. The champion trainer has a deep understanding of how the handicapping works at HRP and always gets one in with bottom weight and this one may be too tough today. Edwin Drood, Stranger and Silver Dancer may be the dangers and there will be a lot of interest in State Police after he achieved such a high price tag.