Met Mile & Woody Stephens Stakes Odds and Picks

It could be a big Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park for trainer Bill Mott, who saddles America’s favorite horse Cody’s Wish in the G1 Met Mile, in which he will be a strong favorite against the revitalised Repo Rocks. Mott also has the heavy chalk in the G2 True North with champion sprinter Elite Power but has no shot in the G1 Woody Stephens, for which Bob Baffert sends Arabian Lion and Fort Bragg to take on recent G2 winner General Jim

Belmont Stakes Odds

Woody Stephens Stakes

G1, $400,000, 7f dirt, 3yo, 3.42pm ET

For well-known reasons Bob Baffert hasn’t had a runner at a New York track since March 2022, and even if National Treasure doesn’t win the Preakness the controversial master trainer has two solid shots in the Woody Stephens.

The morning-line reckons Arabian Lion (4-1) the better of the pair after he bounced back from some underwhelming performances to make his stakes breakthrough over a mile-sixteenth at Churchill Downs, when he took the race by the scruff of the neck from the gate and pounded his rivals into submission by four lengths.

He has plenty of speed but the cutback is obviously a talking point, and his barnmate Fort Bragg (5-1) – zero-for-four in stakes – is also coming back in distance after a good showing in the G2 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs last month, a race that involved several of today’s leading contenders.

It was a fast-run affair and General Jim (7-2) battled gamely to get the job done by a neck from Fort Bragg, the two pulling three and a half lengths clear of Gilmore (12-1), who rallied best of all but too late, with the one-paced Gun Pilot (20-1) two and a half lengths further back in fifth.

General Jim was building on victory in the seven-furlong G3 Swale at Gulfstream Park and prefers a heap of pace to run at. He is upgrading smartly and should be sharper now as he’d been off for three months before the Pat Day Mile.

There’s no knowing quite how good Drew’s Gold (8-1) is, as he is unbeaten in four after running his rivals out of town in a stakes here over six furlongs last month, punching four and three-quarter lengths clear in a fast time. He goes longer for the first time and will surely provide some of that pace General Jim is hoping for, and if he sees out the distance he should be there at the business end.

Federal Judge (8-1) is also unbeaten, two-for-two after turning back the high-profile Extra Anejo in a Churchill Downs allowance over six and a half furlongs, and deserves his chance at a higher level. He’s preferred to Harrodsburg (12-1), beaten a nose here in a four-runner allowance over six and a half furlongs and another potential pace angle.

Former Kentucky Derby possible Victory Formation (10-1) was torpedoed when favourite for the G2 Risen Star, but resurfaced with a decent effort to be third in a mile-eighth stakes at Oaklawn Park, less than a length behind Belmont outsiders Red Route One and Tapit Shoes. He set brisk fractions there but may not get that chance down in distance.

It was a long time coming but Dark Vector (30-1) broke his maiden at the fifth attempt, bulling his way to a ten-length score over course and distance. The form is nothing but – given that C/D ticket – he could be one to use underneath at boxcar odds.

Woody Stephens Stakes Odds & Betting Pick

Perhaps it’s time to trust ARABIAN LION, who has shown much more in his last two starts and should have the speed to take the cutback in his stride.

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
New York ThunderRicardo Santana, Jr.+1200
Gun PilotTyler Gaffalione+2000
Arabian LionJohn R. Velazquez+400
General JimLuis Saez+350
ArmanJose L. Ortiz+3000
HarrodsburgManuel Franco+1200
Federal JudgeFlavien Prat+800
Fort BraggJoel Rosario+500
Fort WarrenSheldon Russell+3000
Dark VectorJavier Castellano+3000
Victory FormationFlorent Geroux+1000
GilmoreIrad Ortiz, Jr.+1200
Drew’s GoldJose Antonio Gomez+800

Metropolitan Handicap

G1, $1,000,000, 1m dirt, 3yo+, 5.04pm ET

The Metropolitan – the storied Met Mile, the headline event of the stakes-heavy undercard at Belmont Park on Saturday – has been won by a host of great names in its long history, and although there are no all-timers in this year’s field there’s one horse who will take the roof off the grandstands if he wins.

Everyone knows the story of the almost supernatural bond between disabled teenager Cody Dorman and multiple G1 winner Cody’s Wish (7-5), and almost everyone will be absolutely delighted if the brilliant five-year-old can stretch his winning streak to six. He looked as good as ever on his first start of 2023 when coasting home in the seven-furlong G1 Churchill Downs under the twin spires, putting four and three-quarter lengths into Hoist The Gold (30-1), and although he’s unbeaten at Churchill Downs he can do it at other tracks too.

He had a one-paced Slow Down Andy (10-1) – who hasn’t run since – two lengths back in third when landing the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland, and seems equally adept at seven furlongs and a mile. He has to spot at least 4lb all round but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue and he’ll be coming along late. There won’t be a dry eye in the house if he gets there.

A change of barns has transformed Repo Rocks (4-1), who was moderate before and five-for-six after moving to Jamie Ness, and who rolled his rivals flat in the G3 Westchester over course and distance last month, hauling right off to beat Zandon (5-1) by five and a quarter lengths.

There could easily be more to come, and you’d fancy him to flip the form with Doppelganger (20-1) – who has been similarly revitalised after moving to Brittany Russell’s barn – after that rival sprang a 17-1 surprise to snatch the seven-furlong G1 Carter at Aqueduct, surging late to beat Repo Rocks by a length and a quarter.

Zandon was having his first start of 2023 and should be sharper now, but he’s two-for-ten lifetime and doesn’t have what it takes when it comes to the crunch.

This course and distance was the scene for Charge It (6-1) to monster moderate opposition to the tune of 23 lengths in the G3 Dwyer last July, but he missed the rest of 2022 and hasn’t come back in the same mood. He is probably flattered by that performance and will be an underlay until he shows something like it again.

White Abarrio (10-1) beat Zandon by two lengths when they ran three-four in the G1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct in December and is another who can’t make it pay at this level, although he makes his debut for Richard Dutrow and could get a bump.

Former star sprinter Dr Schivel (10-1) returned from 14 months on the bench to win a three-runner six-furlong allowance at Santa Anita last month, and stretches out to a mile for the first time in the toughest spot imaginable.

Met Mile Odds & Betting Prediction

The heart says CODY’S WISH and the head agrees, as he looked better than ever when successful on his comeback and should be at his peak today.

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Cody’s WishJunior Alvarado+140
Slow Down AndyMario Gutierrez+1000
Dr. SchivelIrad Ortiz, Jr.+1000
Hoist the GoldLuis Saez+3000
Charge ItJohn R. Velazquez+600
ZandonFlavien Prat+500
Repo RocksRuben Silvera+400
DoppelgangerJevian Toledo+2000
White AbarrioTyler Gaffalione+1000

True North Stakes

G2, $250,000, 6 1/2f dirt, 4yo+, 12.29pm ET

The True North is a G2 but there’s a rock-solid G1 horse here, and there doesn’t appear to be a lot standing in his way on what could be a banner afternoon for trainer Bill Mott.

Since he broke his maiden almost exactly a year ago Elite Power (4-5) has gone on a dazzling spree, extending his winning streak to six and climbing the ladder in double time, with most of his victories gained by daylight.

He put away a weak field in the seven-furlong G2 Vosburgh at Aqueduct, was dominant in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland over six furlongs, and barely got out of third gear when clearing away from the high-class Gunite to score by three and a quarter lengths in the G3 Riyadh Dirt Sprint in February.

He’s been given time to recover from the globetrotting exertions and he wouldn’t need to be at his best to see off this crowd, who are realistically only pitching for place money.

In one of those quirks of racing his market rival Strobe (2-1) was the last horse to beat Elite Power, when winning on debut and pushing the hotshot into third. Their careers have taken very different paths since, but they come back together now after Strobe ran a fine race on his stakes debut to be runner-up in the six-furlong G3 Count Fleet Sprint at Oaklawn Park in April.

It’s not really the same league as Elite Power, but Strobe is moving up well and has never been out of the first two in his life. He needs more but there may be more.

Today’s Flavor (5-1) has never won away from Aqueduct and bounced back from fourth place on his stakes debut in the G1 Carter at the Big A to take a six-furlong stakes in easy gate-to-wire fashion. He’s coming up but it’s a wide gap to bridge.

California shipper Anarchist (10-1) made his stakes breakthrough when taking the six-furlong G3 Jacques Cartier on the synthetic surface at Woodbine, but along with Synthesis (12-1), recent allowance winner here over seven furlongs, and Fearless (15-1), who has been on the bench for nearly nine months and generally runs over much longer distances, looks up against it.

True North Stakes Odds & Betting Pick 

This could be a walk in the (Belmont) park for the top-class ELITE POWER, who wouldn’t need to be at his brilliant best to take his hot streak to seven.

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Today’s FlavorManuel Franco+500
SynthesisJavier Castellano+1200
AnarchistJoel Rosario+1000
Elite PowerIrad Ortiz, Jr-125
StrobeFlorent Geroux+200
FearlessLuis Saez+1500

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