2023 Metropolitan Handicap & True North Stakes Recap

The stars came out long before dark at Belmont Park on Saturday, with three top-notchers showcasing their brilliance on the main track. The talismanic Cody’s Wish stretched his winning streak to six with a barnstorming score in the 2023 Metropolitan Handicap, and his barnmate Elite Power went one better in the G2 True North when signing for his seventh straight win. In between, Arabian Lion made his breakthrough at the top level with a dominant success in the G1 Woody Stephens.

Breeders Cup Odds

2023 Metropolitan Handicap

G1, $1,000,000, 1m dirt, 3yo+

Wish brings the house down again

The miracle horse gave the Belmont Park crowd – and the rest of racing – the result it wanted on Saturday afternoon, with Cody’s Wish ensuring happy tears among the cheers when beating Zandon and White Abarrio in the 2023 Metropolitan Handicap, stretching his winning streak to six including four straight G1s.

This may even have been a career-best, as the 3-5 favorite ran like his odds suggested and never looked anything other than a winner despite spotting weight all around. The usual patient tactics of Junior Alvarado kept Cody’s Wish well away from the brisk pace, and when the five-year-old began his trademark surge leaving the turn there was no stopping him.

He led at the top of the lane and drew off in dazzling fashion to win by three and a quarter lengths, with Zandon winning the battle with longshot White Abarrio for the place slot by a head.

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Cody’s Wish takes home the 2023 Met Mile#Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #FYP #Sports #Horse #Horses

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“I knew what I had underneath me,” said Alvarado. “When he turns everything on, he’s on all the way to the wire. He’s an unbelievable horse.”

Victory in the Met Mile had been a long-held ambition for veteran trainer Bill Mott, who had a weekend to remember with four Graded-stakes victories, and he referenced the heartwarming story of Cody’s Wish and his bond with disabled teenager Cody Dorman in his post-race huddle.

“It’s a terrific, heartwarming story, a great story that goes along with a very good horse,” he said. “He’s really developed nicely and it feels good to win this race for the first time – job well done.”

Cody’s Wish has earned more than $2.3 million, has a nine-for-13 count and never off the board, and has won G1s at Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Belmont Park and Saratoga, which is where you’ll see him next. More than all that, though, he’s become a special horse to the sport, an emblem of racing – he’s America’s horse.

Metropolitan Handicap Race Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Cody’s Wish3.302.402.30
2. Zandon5.003.30
3. White Abarrio5.50

Winning time: 1m 34.36s

2023 Woody Stephens Stakes

G1, $400,000, 7f dirt, 3yo

Lion roars into the big time

Baffert’s back in the Big Apple. This weekend marked the first occasion that Bob Baffert had saddled a horse at a New York track since March 2022, following a year-long suspension, and Arabian Lion ensured that there was reason to celebrate when seeing off Drew’s Gold and Gilmore to win the Woody Stephens.

The son of Baffert’s Triple Crown winner Justify has long had a tall reputation but without the results to back it up, but that changed here when the 2-1 favorite finally put it all together under John Velazquez. He stalked the pace of Federal Judge, and when the unbeaten Drew’s Gold blew for home off the turn he went after him with a will.

Arabian Lion ran down the leader at the eighth-pole and drove clear to score by a convincing length and three-quarters, with Gilmore rallying strongly but still three-quarters of a length behind Drew’s Gold at the line. The well-fancied second-choice General Jim made no show, finishing sixth.

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Arabian Lion takes the G1 Woody Stephens #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horse #FYP #Sports

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“It’s great to be back, there’s nothing like winning in New York,” said Baffert, signing for his third Woody Stephens. “This horse has been slow to come around, but he’s learning and now we’re being rewarded.”

This victory marked the Graded-stakes breakthrough for Arabian Lion, coming off his first stakes win at Pimlico Racetrack last month. He is versatile as regards distance and will be pointed towards the $1m G1 Haskell over a mile-eighth at Monmouth Park on July 22, a race his trainer has won a record nine times.

Woody Stephens Stakes Race Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Arabian Lion6.703.903.10
2. Drew’s Gold4.803.70
3. Gilmore3.90

Winning time: 1m 21.70s

2023 True North Stakes

G2, $250,000, 6 1/2f dirt, 4yo+

Seventh heaven for powerful Elite

Bill Mott – trainer of Cody’s Wish – had begun the afternoon in glorious style when another of his stable stars Elite Power took his winning streak to seven in the True North, last year’s champion sprinter seeing off overmatched rivals headed by Anarchist and Strobe with the minimum of fuss.

The hard-case speedball – “You don’t want to pet him, he’ll just grab hold of your arm,” said his trainer – didn’t have to use too much muscle to justify odds of 3-5, making the game look simple. 

Irad Ortiz kept him back from the pace set by Today’s Flavor until letting out a notch as they turned for home, and Elite Power responded immediately, inhaling the front-runner inside the last three-sixteenths and careering away under a hand-ride to win by a length and three-quarters, value for more.

Anarchist was a clear second-best, three and three-quarter lengths ahead of the fading second-choice Strobe, but the race was about only one horse.

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The True North was taken by Elite Power #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horse #FYP #Sports

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“We were considering the Met Mile, but he’s done a lot of traveling [to Saudi Arabia] and I didn’t think he was ready,” said Mott. “It looks like he’s bounced back well, doesn’t it?”

Since breaking his maiden almost exactly a year ago, Elite Power has risen rapidly through the ranks, with his marquee victory coming in last year’s G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland. Mott evidently believes he could stretch out to a mile but Elite Power is likely to stay sprinting in the short term, with the six-furlong G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga on July 29 a potential target.

True North Stakes Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Elite Power3.502.902.10
2. Anarchist6.503.10
3. Strobe2.20

Winning time: 1m 15.65s

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