Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Quality and Class: Metropolitan Handicap and More

Posted by Brian Appleton on May 29, 2010

Metropolitan Handicap:

Quality Road

Almost four months after his incredible 12 ¾ length Donn Handicap  (gr.1) romp Quality Road returns to action in the Metropolitan Handicap May 31st.The talented colt will lead a cast of impressive talent in the Metropolitan this year when he faces seven other contenders. Quality Road is undefeated at the mile distance of the Metropolitan and according to trainer Todd Pletcher he has enough natural speed to rate off the pace or set it, whichever way the race happens to set up. In his only previous start over the Belmont oval last year Quality Road finished second to 2009 3-year-old Champion Male Summer Bird in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on a sloppy track. He has won both of his starts this year and is coming into this race very fresh and rested which has served him well before.

Musket Man could be Quality Road’s biggest challenger with his fast closing ability, especially if the pace is hot and with Quality Road in the race the splits are usually pretty fast. In his last start Musket Man finished third as the favorite in the Churchill Downs Stakes behind second place finisher, and fellow Metropolitan contender, Warrior’s Reward. Before that Warrior’s Reward again finished ahead of Musket Man when he defeated him by a head at Aqueduct.

You and I Forever last posted an upset victory in the Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 13th and is looking for his second consecutive graded stakes win here.

Le Grand Cru also enters the Metropolitan off an upset victory at odds of 27-1 in the Westchester Handicap at Belmont.

Kensei enters the Metropolitan off the worst performance of any entrants having last finished a poor 7th in the Churchill Downs Stakes. Last year he won the Jim Dandy but has been winless since, he will have to make drastic improvement if he hopes to run well with this group.

Convocation and Tizway complete the field.

It looks like Quality Road’s race all the way but with a horse like Musket Man in the race I’m not willing to just hand it over to him on a silver platter. I think Quality Road will win the race, and probably in stunning fashion again, but I won’t be surprised to see Musket Man make a close race of it or even post an upset. Warrior’s Reward has a great shot too, but in the end I think this will be about Quality Road.

The Gamely Stakes:

Two of turf racing’s most accomplished and talented females will make sure the spotlight does not stay situated

Tuscan Evening

exclusively on the nation’s leading male runners in the Metropolitan Handicap this weekend when Tuscan Evening and Champion Forever Together take to the track in the Gamely Stakes (gr.1) at Hollywood Park. Tuscan Evening will probably go off as the favorite as she enters the race off four consecutive graded stakes wins ranging in distance from 6 ½ furlongs to 1 ¼ miles. She is in the form of her life and although she has won 10 of her 14 starts here in the United States she has yet to win a grade 1 race, she looks to change that in the Gamely.

Forever Together will be looking for her first win since she won Saratoga’s Diana Stakes (gr.1) on August 1st. Although she has not won a race since then she has proven to always be a very formidable force with her spectacular late-closing-kick.

The two fillies behind the leading two with the best chance at posting upsets seem to be Gotta Have Her and Well Monied. The field is completed by Medaglia d’Amour, General Consensus, Princess Haya and Cat by the Tale.

Tuscan Evening looks like the clear-cut favorite here with the flawless form she has produced so far this year, but I’m going to pick Forever Together for a very mild upset. She’s been a favorite of mine for years and I love a filly that can kick it into high gear from far back while eating into the front-runners lead with every closing stride.

The Winning Colors Stakes:

Finally Hot Dixie Chick is back, after her last race in which she turned heads with a decimating win in the Prima Donna Stakes in March, Hot Dixie Chick looks to prove herself against older fillies and mares for the first time. She finished third in the Eight Belles Stakes (gr.3) in her last start behind a victorious Buckleupbuttercup.

Last year’s Winning Colors victor Dubai Majesty is back to defend her title this year in the six furlong event. She has lost all four of her 2010 starts but has finished second in three of those four efforts so her form is still consistent.
Emmy Darling, Double Espresso, Nadeshiko, Secret Gypsy, Minewander and J Z Warrior complete the field. I’m hoping Hot Dixie Chick will come back to form in this one and show the same spark she did in the Prima Donna Stakes. Although she is trying older fillies and mares for the first time I think she is much more talented than the rest of the contenders in the field and will win this one easily.

In order to keep this post to a readable length I’m just going to bring up a  few more of the major races this weekend without going into great detail.

The Lone Star Park Handicap has one of my favorite older runners entered in Awesome Gem. I almost always root for this guy to win. It looks like his biggest challeng will be from Jonesboro and Mythical Power.

The Berkeley Stakes (gr.3) is headlined by Bold Chieftan, Delightful Kiss and Dakota Phone. Bold Chieftan is another one of my favorite older runners and this time around the 7-year-old enters the race riding a three race winning streak.

This year’s second place Kentucky Oaks finisher Evening Jewel will be making her turf debut in the Honeymoon Handicap (gr.2) at Hollywood Park this Monday. She is two noses away from being the leading three-year-old filly in the nation but for Blind Luck and I for one will not want to miss this race.

It seems I could go on and on finding great races to write about the Memorial Day weekend but suffice it to say there are a bunch more races to keep an eye on: the Shoemaker Mile (gr.1), the Calder Stakes, Sands Point Stakes, Eatontown Stakes (gr.3), Connaught Cup, Matron Stakes (gr.3), Vagrancy Handicap (gr.2) and Dogwood Stakes (gr.3).

Have a great Memorial Day weekend to all. In closing I would like to say this to all veterans; for all you have sacrificed and will sacrifice for us in the future I thank you. It is because of you that we Americans live in comfort, peace and prosperity, you honor us all with your service, God bless American and you.

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One Response to “Quality and Class: Metropolitan Handicap and More”

  1. Steve M. said

    Brian,
    I think you analysis is spot on. If QR loses, I tend to think MUSKET MAN has the best shot based on his running style and has shown he like the track. Dominguez should give him a good ride, just a matter of whether or not QR faces any pressure or is allowed to run his race.

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