News and STORIES
Code of Honor, McKinzie, Other Top Talent Face Off in Met Mile
Author: Don Mckee
Published: Thursday July 02, 2020
Saturday's $500,000 Met Mile is set to include a highly talented field of runners, making it one of the best matchups of the year. Names like Code of Honor, Vekoma, and McKinzie top the field with others such as Mr Freeze and Warrior's Charge ready to challenge.
There will be a field of eight runners for the event.
"There's some good horses in there," said Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who trains McKinzie.
Win and You're In
The Met Mile is a "Win and You're In" race, meaning it awards an expenses-paid berth into the Big Ass Fans Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) to the winner. It is the highlight of the July 4 card at Belmont Park, which includes another four graded stakes like the grade 1, 119th edition of the Manhattan Stakes (G1T).
Prior to being moved to the Belmont Stakes Day card in 2014, the Met Mile was a Memorial Day event in New York. Due to the changes from the COVID-10 pandemic, which shut down racing for 80 days in New York, the race was moved back a month.
"It's always a feather in your cap to win the Met Mile," said George Weaver, who trains Vekoma.
Code of Honor
Will Farish's Code of Honor will be leading the field. As a 3-year-old, he took a double by winning the Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1) and Jockey Gold Cup (G1) at 1 1/4 miles, the latter being due to a disqualification.
The homebred Noble Mission colt has also done well at shorter distances at Belmont Park, taking the Dwyer Stakes (G3) in 2019 and finishing second in the Champagne Stakes (G1) at 2. Both of those events were at the same one-turn, one-mile conditions as the Met Mile.
Code of Honor took some time off after traveling to the West Coast and finishing seventh in the 2019 Nov. 2 Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1). He came back to take his June 6 4-year-old debut, his third win in four tries at Belmont Park.
The race was the Westchester Stakes (G3), and he won by a half-length on a muddy track at a one-turn 1 1/16-mile distance.
"He's doing great," trainer Shug McGaughey said. "He's grown up a lot physically and mentally since last year, and I'm pleased with the way he's doing. He ran good in the Champagne when he was second, and I thought the Dwyer was one of his better races. There will be some speed in there but (jockey John Velazquez) knows how to ride him. If he gets a decent trip, we'll have a good chance."
Code of Honor was the runner-up in the 2019 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). He will carry 124 pounds in the Met Mile.
Owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, McKinzie had a bad trip in last year's edition of the race. However, he still closed the quickest at the wire.
McKinzie is the son of Street Sense.
"He ran great last year," Baffert said. "I'll take that same effort this year."
Following his performance in the Met Mile, the California-based McKinzie came back to New York and scored the Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course in August. He then finished second in the Classic, which was two starts later.
McKinzie finished 11th in the $20 million Saudi Cup, which was his first start at 5, but he returned to the U.S. and won the seven-furlong Triple Bend Stakes (G2) June 7 at Santa Anita Park.
"He ran a nice race," Baffert said about the Triple Bend, "and came out of it really well. I wish the pot (for the Met Mile) was $1.2 million like last year, but we feel fortunate just to be able to run in a race like this."
The rest of the field for the Met Mile is set to include Network Effect, Vekoma, Hog Creek Hustle, Endorsed, Mr Freeze, and Warrior's Change.