By Emily Shields
Because of the presence of multiple Grade 1 winners Code of Honor and McKinzie, Vekoma will be no better than third choice in the wagering. However, the son of Candy Ride (Arg) was a brilliant winner of the Carter Handicap (G1) over this track June 6. That seven-furlong race made him two for two at Belmont and he is also a winner at the one-mile distance. George Weaver trains, and Javier Castellano will ride.
McKinzie is shipping in from California. The Bob Baffert-trainee was second in this race last year, and since then has added the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga, finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), and most recently won the seven-furlong Triple Bend (G2) at Santa Anita. Mike Smith will be back aboard the $3.4 million earner.
Code of Honor is a dual Grade 1 winner already, and has even won a graded stakes race over this trip. This was the winner of the Travers (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) last year, the latter via disqualification. He was third – but placed second – in the Kentucky Derby, and returned to win the Westchester (G3) here over fellow runner Endorsed on June 6. John Velazquez will ride for Shug McGaughey.
Mr Freeze was the winner of the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) in February at Gulfstream Park, after having knocked on the door in major races for a while. He won the West Virginia Derby in 2018 and the Ack Ack in 2019, both of those were Grade 3 events. He was third in the Clark (G1) at Churchill Downs and second in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1). Dale Romans trains the son of To Honor and Serve. Manny Franco will ride.
Brad Cox ships in Warrior’s Charge from Kentucky. The four-year-old son of Munnings won the Razorback Handicap (G3) in February, then finished second in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2). Florent Geroux will retain the mount on this colt.
Network Effect, Endorsed, and Grade 1 winning sprinter Hog Creek Hustle complete the field.
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