July 4th Holiday Racing: Suburban Stakes Quick Picks
The holiday weekend stakes action on Saturday at Belmont Park is highlighted by the Grade 2, $400,000 Suburban Stakes. The 1 1/4-mile contest for older horses is a Win-and-you’re-in Challenge event for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
July 4th Holiday Racing Preview
Carded as Race 10, the Suburban attracted six horses lead by the morning-line even-money favorite, Mystic Guide. After hitting the board in last year’s Peter Pan Stakes, trainer Michael Stidham added blinker’s to Mystic Guide’s equipment and was rewarded with noticeable improvement. The colt won the Jim Dandy (G2) and placed second by ¾ of a length in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) to close out the year.
Mystic Guide returned this year with a powerful six-length score in the Razorback Handicap (G3). He then bested the best dirt horses in the world by 3¾ lengths in the Dubai World Cup (G1).
The main chinks Mystic Guide’s armor are twofold; he’s finished second in both tries at Belmont Park. The other issue is a possibility that he’ll fall victim to the “Dubai-bounce.” Unfortunately, horses sometimes need time to regain their best form after a trip overseas.
Mystic Guide’s main competitor is Happy Saver. The Todd Pletcher trainee is undefeated in five-lifetime starts and defeated Mystic Guide in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), beating Mystic Guide. After a long vacation, Happy Saver returned to outclass an optional claiming field by a workmanlike one length. Happy Saver had a bullet five-furlong breeze of :59.40 on June 18 in preparation for the Suburban Stakes.
Moretti finished a distant second to Tacitus in last year’s Suburban Stakes. A stablemate to Happy Saver, Moretti returned off a long layoff to place third in the 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn Stakes (G2). It was an excellent effort, considering that he was wide the entire race. Moretti has hit the board in all three starts at Belmont, and at 10-1 morning odds, he is a live longshot.
Informative hasn’t won beyond 1 mile 70 yards; however, the Uriah St. Lewis trainee was the surprise winner of the Salvador Mile (G3), paying a whopping $161.60 to win, over a full field of stakes winners. Should he carry that form into the Suburban, Informative could hit the board again at long odds.
Prioritize takes on graded stakes company for the third time in his career, hoping for an improved placing. He was third in last year’s Woodward Handicap (G1) at Saratoga, beaten just three lengths. The Jams Bond trainee returned to finish fourth, beaten 8 1/4-lengths, behind Happy Saver in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).
In his first start of 2021 in the Pimlico Special (G3), Prioritize lagged well behind the pack before making his move in the stretch and finishing with interest, beating out Max Player by a neck. An improvement in his second start of the year could earn Prioritize a minor award.
Max Player showed promise last year in Linda Rice’s barn. After capturing the Withers Stakes (G3), he finished third in the Belmont Stakes(G1) and Travers (G1) before switching to Steve Asmussen’s care. Max Player hasn’t cared for the switch; since joining Asmussen’s barn, the son of Honor Code has finished off the board in four starts.
His latest effort in the Pimlico Special (G3) was a disinterested sixth place, beaten eight lengths. Perhaps the return to New York will awaken Max Player’s competitive spirit.
The Suburban Stakes is devoid of early speed. Moretti has previously won on the lead, and his new jockey Flavien Pratt could send him from post position #1. Informative has also won from up close, and jockey Manny Franco is an excellent rider on the pace.
Mystic Guide and Happy Saver have early speed, and either one of them could take the lead if Moretti or Informative don’t. Prioritize prefers to sit mid-pack or farther back, and Max Player has zero early speed.
Mystic Guide is a vulnerable favorite, and at even-money odds, I’ll look elsewhere. Happy Saver is undefeated and should be strong in his second start off the layoff. Moretti is the best of the rest.
- #6 Happy Saver (6-5)
- #4 Mystic Guide (1-1)
- #1 Moretti (10-1)
- #3 Prioritize (12-1)