Pat On the Back merits respect in Kelso

The Grade II, $300,000 Kelso Handicap, a key prep for November’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, is set for Saturday at Belmont Park. A field of seven will contest the one-mile event on the main course. Post time for the Kelso, Race 10 of 11 on the day, is 5:57 p.m. ET.

#3 PAT ON THE BACK (3-1) typically campaigns at the state-bred level but seems to fit with these. He was used fairly hard early on in the six-furlong Tale of the Cat Stakes at Saratoga last time out, so that can be dismissed. PAT ON THE BACK usually does best when allowed to sit back early, as he did when he won the Affirmed Success Stakes to start the season. His form going a route of ground is hard to pinhole (4-2-1-0 at exactly one mile), and he’s never run off the board at Belmont (10-5-3-2). Regular rider Dylan Davis retains the assignment on the speedy son of Congrats.

#5 PRINCE LUCKY (2-1, morning-line favorite) was last seen winning Belmont’s State Dinner Stakes in early July. That was a needed bounce-back performance following two off-the-board efforts in graded stakes over this course. PRINCE LUCKY has back class to turn to off his winning efforts in the Hal’s Hope and Gulfstream Park Mile earlier this year. The Todd Pletcher trainee seems to fire well fresh and keeps John Velazquez aboard. PRINCE LUCKY is a threat to wire the field in the Kelso.

#6 PLAINSMAN (4-1) could be tasked with keeping PRINCE LUCKY honest early in the Kelso. He rallied from well back when last seen in a Saratoga allowance, but he won three straight from a stalking position last fall, including the Discovery. PLAINSMAN has run speed figures fast enough to win this and gets a rider switch to Jose Lezcano.

#4 GOLDEN BROWN (10-1) has won four of his first five starts this year, granted they were all at Monmouth. He’ll be tested for class but need only improve slightly to hit the ticket at boxcar odds. Perhaps GOLDEN BROWN will take to the Belmont surface under Kendrick Carmouche.

The play: $3 exacta 3/5,6, $2 exacta 3/4, $2 exacta 5/3 ($10)

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