ELMONT, NY – Charles Fipke’s homebred Bee Jersey maintained his spotless 2018 record on Saturday, running just good enough to outlast a tough challenge from Mind Your Biscuits at the line and win the Grade 1, $1,200,000 Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (aka the Met Mile) at Belmont Park.
The Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Bee Jersey receiving an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Las Vegas Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
Breaking sharply from post 10 as the tepid 3-1 betting favorite under Ricardo Santana, Jr., Bee Jersey shot right to the lead and fended off an initial challenge from Bolt d’Oro to take full command through opening splits of :23.08 and :45.71. Heading into and through the far turn, Bee Jersey maintained his steady pace while Mind Your Biscuits began ramping up to unleash his trademark killer kick. Straightening for home, the sold-out crowd of over 90,000 roared as the two foes locked up for a tremendous duel. Mind Your Biscuits cut inches into Bee Jersey’s lead with every stride, but the Steve Asmussen trainee refused to yield and dug in gamely to win by the slimmest of nostril hairs in a final time of 1:33.13 for the mile-long main-track event.
“The horse broke sharply like he always does,” said Santana, Jr. “We were sitting in a nice spot; I loved the position I was in for the first 1/4 (mile). I slowed down and he came back to me. He was in a great position, and when I turned for home, I let him go a little bit. He ran an amazing race. My horse is a fighter and he showed it today. He was waiting for the other horses, and when my horse felt (Mind Your Biscuits), he took off again. He gave me a second kick to pass the wire first.”
“He’s a tremendous horse with a lot of talent,” Asmussen said. “We’re very fortunate that Mr. Fipke sent him to us and I’m glad he was able to win the Met Mile today. We all know what the race means. The draw was perfect for him. It played out the way we wanted. He broke cleanly, Ricardo got away with a very soft first 1/4, then they applied pressure on him from there.”
Over 5 lengths behind them, Limousine Liberal was much the best of the rest, taking third over longshot Discreet Lover, with Ransom the Moon, McCraken, Good Samaritan, and Awesome Slew all close behind. One Liner, Warrior’s Club, and Bolt d’Oro completed the order of finish.
Bee Jersey’s win was his fourth straight and his second consecutive stakes score, following last month’s Grade 3 Steve Sexton Mile at Lone Star. The 4-year-old son of Jersey Town improved his overall record to 10-5-3-1 with a career bankroll of $976,312.
“He’s a fabulous miler,” Asmussen said. “This was the goal with the horse at the beginning of the year, and now I think we’ll regroup from here and think of how to get him to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in the best condition. “(At the 1/16 pole) he looked good. When he got away from there cleanly like he did, I loved it. He picked it up to the wire.”
Bee Jersey returned $8.50 to win, $4.60 to place, and $3.80 to show. Mind Your Biscuits brought back $5.70 to place and $4.10 to show, while Limousine Liberal paid $7.20 to show.