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ELMONT, NY – This year’s running of the $400,000 Suburban Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park drew only six horses, but the field is pretty solid at the top as two of the best older males – the returning Mystic Guide and recent local winner Happy Saver – are set for a long-awaited rematch.
For the first time, the Suburban is also a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the Classic, adding to the race’s importance. Scheduled for race 10 on the card, the Suburban has a local post time of 5:44 PM.
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If the Breeders’ Cup Classic was run today, then Mystic Guide would likely be the favorite. He comes into this off of 2 impressive victories, including a romp in the Dubai World Cup (G1) last time out. Luis Saez will be aboard once again with the Mike Stidham trainee breaking from post 4.
“We’ve given him plenty of time and he’s had 3 months since that race to bounce back,” Stidham said. “Looking at him train and his weight and his coat, he’s an absolute picture right now.”
The Todd Pletcher-trained Happy Saver poses the biggest challenge to the favorite and actually defeated him last year in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) over this very track. Happy Saver made his 2021 debut here May 28 and dominated allowance company. The red-hot Irad Ortiz Jr. will take the irons, breaking from post 6.
“For the way he ran in the Jockey Club Gold Cup last year, he’s proven he likes that distance, and that race looks even stronger now with what Mystic Guide has done,” Pletcher said. “I think as an older horse he’s a little more laid back in some of his works. He always performs well and he’s really filled out and matured.”
Max Player enters this race looking to get back on track after 2 poor performances to kick off the year. His trip to the Saudi Cup (G1) was a disaster and he didn’t run much better last time, either, finishing fifth in the Pimlico Special Stakes (G3). He’ll break from post 5 and will likely take back to make one big run.
The full field from the rail out: Moretti, Informative, Prioritize, Mystic Guide, Max Player, and Happy Saver.
Happy Saver Passes Latest Test in Jockey Club Gold Cup
#4 Mystic Guide – The number one-ranked older horse is the deserving favorite, having dominated his rivals in the Razorback Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park in his 2021 debut before crushing the Dubai World Cup (G1) field. Did that race and/or shipping back and forth across the world take something out of him? That’s his only major question mark. He’ll need to be at his best to beat Happy Saver.
“He needs to be faster,” said Stidham when asked what Mystic Guide must do to win. “The bottom line is that they’re both very good horses. I’m not taking anything for granted. I know Happy Saver has never been beaten and it won’t be an easy race for us. I just hope we have the best horse.”
#6 Happy Saver – He puts his undefeated record on the line in his toughest challenge yet. He was a perfect 4 for 4 last year including an impressive win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) over Mystic Guide. He came back strong in his 2021 debut last time out as well, defeating allowance company in a workman-like manner that should set him up nicely here. This looks like a two-horse race that could go either way.
#5 Max Player – At this point, we know exactly what this horse is all about. He’ll drop towards the back, come with a run at the end, and probably pass a few tired horses. That leaves him with a shot to hit the board, but that’s his ceiling, as he’ll pose no treat to the top two.
#1 Moretti – Pletcher’s second entry returned to the races off of a long layoff last time out and ran a decent third in the Brooklyn Stakes (G2) while being unable to pass Tizamagician, so we could see improvement from him here. However, he’s at his best when running marathon distances. We still could see him make an impact against this short field, though, and if the two big horses don’t run well, then he’ll have a chance to pull off a mild upset.
#2 Informative – He posted a big upset win in the Salvator Mile (G3) at Monmouth Park last time out, but this spot is much more difficult. He also benefited greatly from the no-whip rule in that win. It’s hard to see things go his way here.
#3 Prioritize – We’ll need to see some improvement from him if he’s going to make an impact in this spot. He’s tried this type of company before without much luck, so it’s hard to see that changing.
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