It’s a star-studded Pick 6 sequence, beginning with Jack Christopher in the Woody Stephens Stakes and ending with Rich Strike and Friends in the 154th Belmont Stakes. That’s what awaits horseplayers Saturday at Belmont Park. It’s an All-Grade I six-pack including a showdown between Flightline and Speaker’s Corner in the Metropolitan Mile and North America’s best distaffers in the Ogden Phipps. With woefully-short fields in many of the races, value in the sequence may be found in a pair of races on the lawn, the Jaipur and the Manhattan. In the Belmont, there won’t be anywhere near the 80-1, get-out-for-life odds for Kentucky Derby champ Rich Strike. He is listed as the morning-line third choice in the horse racing odds at 7-2. First post in Elmont, NY, is 11:20 am. ET.
Woody Stephens Stakes (7 furlongs, 3-year-olds)
- Race: 6
- Purse: $400,000
- Post Time: 2:25 p.m. ET
- Television: Fox Sports 2
Perhaps a free square as Jack Christopher is 1-2 to dismiss five others. Jack Christopher, ridden by Jose Ortiz and trained by Chad Brown, is 3-for-3 (total margins more than 15 lengths. after an impressive victory in the Pat Day Mile Derby Day in his 3-year-old debut. This 3-year-old son of Munnings drew post position No. 1. Wit (Irad Ortiz Jr., post 3) was a nose winner in Aqueduct’s Bay Shore.
Ogden Phipps Stakes (1 1/16 miles, fillies & mares, 4YO and older)
- Race: 7
- Purse: $500,000
- Post Time: 3:05 p.m. ET
- Television: CNBC
Those with deep pockets could simply hit the “all” button in this five-horse field, though it could well be whittled down to reigning top older female Eclipse Award winner Letruska (6-5) and Search Results (9-2). There is every reason to believe that Jose Ortiz will have Letruska on the lead from the rail, but Search Results-ridden by Jose’s brother, Irad-could press the issue. Search Results leaves from post position No. 5. Malathaat (5-2), the 3-year-old filly champion of 2021, probably stalks the leaders. John Velazquez rides, breaking from post position No. 3. Clairiere (3-1), who finished second (while no significant threat) to Letruska in April, and Bonny South (8-1), second to Malathaat by three-quarters of length last month, figure to be the closers. Ridden by Joel Rosario and Flavien Prat, they drew post position Nos. 4 and 2, respectively.
Jaipur Stakes (6 furlongs [turf], 3-year-olds and older)
- Race: 8
- Purse: $400,000
- Post Time: 3:53 p.m. ET
- Television: CNBC
As was mentioned above, the short fields are the order of the day in these stakes, However, 13 horses cram into the starting gate for this three-quarter-mile dash. Seemingly, two stand out, but the pure depth of this field could produce a price when betting online. Arrest Me Red, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., is the tepid 5-2 favorite. The Wesley Ward trainee drew post position No. 5 and could find himself sitting just off the lead in a race largely empty of early speed. Casa Creed (9-2) is among the late arrivals, with Luis Saez aboard the off-the-pace number for trainer Bill Mott from post No. 4. Casa Creed, whose last win (at 10-1) came in the 2021 Jaipur, has not raced since a fifth-place finish in Dubai. An intriguing longshot is Chasing Artie (15-1), making his third start in the form cycle after stumbling badly in his last out However, he recovered to finish just 4½ lengths behind Arrest Me Red. John Velazquez has the mount from post No. 11.
Metropolitan Handicap (1 mile, 3-year-olds and older)
- Race: 9
- Purse: $1,000,000
- Post Time: 4:43 p.m. ET
- Television: CNBC
Flightline is 3-for-3…by a combined three dozen lengths. Speaker’s Corner is 3-for-3 in 2022, 6-of-9 lifetime. The duo drew post position Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in what shapes up as a doozy of a Met Mile, despite just five entrants. Flightline (3-5) races for the first time since Dec. 26. However, a :46⅘ work Sunday suggests to all (including trainer John Sadler and jockey Flavien Prat) that the 4-year-old son of Tapit has recovered from a muscle strain. Flightline, who competes at eight furlongs for the first time now, appears to have more early speed, but Speaker’s Corner (8-5) won’t be too far behind here. Speaker’s Corner, a 4-year-old colt by Street Sense, owns a pair of one-turn mile triumphs among his three graded stakes wins this season. Junior Alvarado has his regular assignment for trainer Bill Mott. Aloha West (6-1), the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner (at 11-1), hopes his come-from-behind kick can take down the leaders. Jose Ortiz rides the 5-year-old son of Hard Spun for trainer Wayne Catalano, breaking from post No. 3.
Manhattan Stakes (1 1/4 miles [inner turf], 4-year-olds and older)
- Race: 10
- Purse: $750,000
- Post Time: 5:38 p.m. ET
- Television: NBC
Trainer Chad Brown has seven wins in this race (a record), including last three and six-of-eight. The four-time Eclipse winner enters 40 percent in field of 10, including 4-1 second choice Adhamo. There is sufficient speed to set up Adhamo’s late kick, starting under jockey Flavien Prat from post position No. 4. Gufo, the 3-1 early favorite with jockey Joel Rosario, figures to be tough to beat. Gufo was charted as seven-wide in a five-horse field, then finishing second in his last out. There’s no reason he won’t to get a better trip from post No. 2 for red-hot trainer Christophe Clement. Santin (7-2) comes off a neck victory in the Turf Classic (Churchill) Derby Day. He defeating Adhamo by 6¼ lengths. It’s Tyler Gaffalione with the mount for trainer Brendan Walsh.
Belmont Stakes (1 1/2 miles, 3-year-olds)
- Race: 11
- Purse: $1,500,000
- Post Time: 6:44 p.m. ET
- Television: NBC
The 154th running of the Triple Crown’s final jewel could be as simple as We the People (early 2-1 favorite) wiring the field as the lone speed. Flavien Prat, who was aboard for the 10¼-length blowout in last month’s Peter Pan at Belmont, reprises that role from post position No. 1. Rodolphe Brisset trains the Constitution colt, making just the fifth start of his career. Of course, anything can happen over Big Sandy in the 1½-mile “Test of Champions.” We the People is the buzz horse after that romp the Peter Pan, local prep leading to this race. Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out an intriguing pair in Mo Donegal (5-2), fifth in the Derby after a poor start; and the filly Nest (8-1), second in the Kentucky Oaks. With Irad Ortiz Jr and Jose Ortiz doing the honors, Pletcher’s pair breaks from post Nos. 6 and 3, respectively. The trainer won the Belmont Stakes with the filly Rags to Riches back in 2007. Perhaps Mo Donegal ends as the favorite and stays closer to the lead than some expect. It’s the pace of the race, or lack thereof, that may very well hinder come-from-behind runners Rich Strike (7-2) and Barber Road (10-1). The Louisville stunner, a son of Keen ice, drew post No. 4 in the Belmont. Sonny Leon is back in the irons for trainer Eric Reed. Barber Road landed outside of seven rivals here, Joel Rosario riding for trainer John Ortiz. Flying under the radar is Creative Minister (6-1). The Ken McPeek trainee, ridden (from post No, 5) by Brian Hernandez Jr., earned a 100 Beyer figure in his stakes bow, when finishing a respectable third in the Preakness. Creative Minister could find himself in a good stalking position, while perhaps a longer proposition in the final racebook odds.