Vekoma gets tepid nod in wide-open Met Mile

The Grade I, $500,000 Met Mile highlights a star-studded card at Belmont Park on Independence Day. A Grade I-worthy field of eight will do battle in this one, led by last-out graded stakes winners VEKOMA, CODE OF HONOR, and MCKINZIE. Post time for the Met Mile, Race 9 of 11 on the day, is 5:47 p.m. ET.

#2 VEKOMA (5-2) romped in the Grade I Carter, albeit on a sloppy Belmont main oval, last time out. A talented foe in #1 NETWORK EFFECT was left in his wake. Prior to that, VEKOMA was a runaway winner in his comeback race at Gulfstream. He’s hinted at serious talent in his four-year-old season for George Weaver, who once again names Javier Castellano to ride. Look for him to sit behind dueling frontrunners #8 WARRIOR’S CHARGE and #7 MR FREEZE before pouncing in the lane.

#5 CODE OF HONOR (3-1) grinded away at #6 ENDORSED before taking over late in the Grade III Westchester when last seen. It wasn’t a flashy victory, but rather a workmanlike one in his first start at four. CODE OF HONOR is eligible to improve here for the formidable trainer/jockey combo of Shug McGaughey and John Velazquez.

#3 MCKINZIE (2-1, morning-line favorite), the Grade II Triple Bend winner last time out, was second with an excuse (stretch traffic) in the 2019 Met Mile. However, in spite of a brilliant record (16-8-6-0, $3.48 million), he tends to quit when battling in the lane. MCKINZIE is not the kind of horse to take on top at a short price against rivals like these. Mike Smith flies in for the call in the Met Mile for Bob Baffert.

NETWORK EFFECT (8-1) and ENDORSED (10-1) look like solid options to fill out trifectas and superfectas. The former owns multiple stakes placings, and his last can be forgiven due to the sloppy track. The latter was a game second in the Westchester. The respective riders are Irad Ortiz Jr. and Joel Rosario.

The play: $8 exacta 2/5, $3 exacta 2/1,3,6, $3 exacta 5/2 ($20)

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