A field of six will try to answer the Breeders' Cup Challenge series question in the marque race on Belmont Park's Saturday card.
MYSTIC GUIDE (PP: 4 ML 1-1) is the morning line favorite, but not by much over HAPPY SAVER (PP: 6 ML 6/5). While those two clearly have the oddsmaker's heart, let's take a look at the potential race shape and the chances for one of the other four to head out west.
Belmont doesn't run many at the distance, just one so far during the current meet. The Suburban moved t0 its current 1 1/4 miles distance in 2014, adding an 1/8 mile. Close to the pace has been the winning style for four of the last seven to take the Suburban hardware. Only one winner, ZIVO was further back than fifth at the quarter-mile marker. He was 11th of 11 through the first 6 furlongs before completing the worst to first win.
According to our pace analysis, PRIORITZE (PP: 3 ML 12-1) and MAX PLAYER (PP: 5 ML 10-1) will be at the back of the pack at the first call, trying to go ZIVO's route to the wire. Although it doesn't look like it on paper, MORETTI (PP: 1 ML 10-1) could be the one pulling the string, but he should have plenty of company from the two favorites.
By the time they hit the half-mile marker, INFORMATIVE could join the first pack with MAX PLAYER and PRIORITZE still training the field. Jockey Jose Ortiz told The Player's Edge podcast that races are won and lost in the final sweeping Belmont turn.
MYSTIC GUIDE, MAX PLAYER, HAPPY SAVER and PRIORTIZE should be the fastest four coming out of the turn, positioning will decide which of the quartet gets to run into the winners' circle and onto the Breeders' Cup Classic.
MYSTIC GUIDE is by far the most accomplished of the four, it's not even close. However, he's coming back to the States after running in the Dubai World Cup in late March. We've heard from more than one horse racing insider that those long trips can take a lot out of a horse. Many times, they need a tune-up spot to readjust.
Jetlag, if you will, could open the door for HAPPY SAVER who is undefeated in five starts, three at Belmont Park, for trainer Todd Pletcher. He's teamed up with Irad Ortiz, Jr., who is four for four on the horse.
Most likely, MORETTI won't have the late legs to hold off the hard chargers late and MAX PLAYER will have ceded too much ground early to get past both HAPPY SAVER and MYSTIC GUIDE. That leaves two. PRIORITIZE will likely start the race at the back and finish there with INFORMATIVE a step of two ahead.
If MYTSIC GUIDE is on his game, it's between him and HAPPY SAVER to earn their way to a November date at Del Mar. The biggest concern is a dull effort from MYSTIC GUIDE following the long trip.