The Grade One Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont is loaded with talented horses but the horse to beat is the 4/5 favorite Quality Road.
Quality Road has been absent from the racing circuit since his dominant win at Gulfstream Park in the Donn Handicap on February 6th. Winning by nearly 13 lengths in 1:47:2, Quality Road reminded everyone why this talented horse was a leading contender for the Kentucky Derby in 2009 before he got injured.
Todd Pletcher has been working Quality Road weekly recently and his last three bullet works at Belmont have all been fantastic.
I see a lot of speed when I analyze the seven other horses in this feature race.
Convocation will be one of the horses that will probably sit right off the pace and try to catch the pace setting Quality Road in the stretch. This gritty four-year-old has a win and three second place finishes at Belmont in four career starts, so he can't be ignored.
Despite being 20/1 in the morning line, Tizway is a horse that is very capable of winning this race. In July of 2009, Tizway dominated at Belmont in prep race before the Whitney and win in 1:34:4. Even if Tizway doesn't win, this five-year-old will be battling with Quality Road from step one.
Musket Man was very mediocre at Churchill Downs on May 1, when he lost by over three lengths to Atta Boy Roy. I'm willing to toss that race out due to the sloppy track conditions that day. With leading New York jockey Ramon Dominguez aboard, this horse will also be near the front with Quality Road.
Warrior's Reward is the lone closer in the race and I think the incredible pace in this race will only benefit him. With Calvin Borel aboard, this Ian Wilkes trained horse should be poised to track down the field in the deep stretch. The 58:4 work at Churchill Downs on May 21 is not to be ignored.
Kensei and You and I Forever both look to be over-matched in this race. While both horses tend to be pace setters, neither has the real tactical speed of the other front runners. I don't expect either of these horses to be in the thick of things in deep stretch.
Le Grand Cru is currently 15:1 and is a great value. This very underrated five-year-old has three wins in four career starts at Belmont and recently won the Grade Three Westchester Mile in 1:34:4. Another speed-ball, this horse is losing six pounds from that dominant April 30th performance.
In the end, Quality Road is facing really good competition in this race. Fractions of 46 and 1:09 wouldn't surprise me but with that being said, almost every horse in this field can handle them so it won't be like the blowout we witness in the Donn at Gulfstream.
I think Warrior's Reward has the best shot to beat Quality Road. I also think Le Grand Cru can win the race if he's runs a similiar race to his last one.
Warrior's Reward over Quality Road and Le Grand Cru in a blistering 1:33:4 over a very fast Belmont Racetrack.