News and STORIES

Suburban Handicap Caps New York Handicap Triple Crown

Author: Chris Adams
Published: Tuesday June 29, 2021

Suburban Handicap Caps New York Handicap Triple Crown

The Grade 2 Suburban Handicap will be run July 3rd at Belmont Park aka “Big Sandy”. The classic distance race will stamp one horse's ticket to Del Mar as part of the Breeder’s Cup “Win and You’re In” series.

History of the Race

The 2021 race will mark the 135th running of the Suburban which has, with three exceptions, been run at Belmont since the original track was unable to reopen following a statewide shutdown of gambling in 1911.

The race is part of the New York Handicap Triple Crown series which includes the Met Mile and the Brooklyn Handicap. Only 4 horses have ever won the New York Triple Crown including the last winner Fit to Fight in 1984. With Silver State winning the Met Mile and Lone Rock winning the Brooklyn there is no possibility of a handicap triple in 2021.

The race has produced 6 2 time winners including the late Effinex who won in both 2015 and 2016. 

Race Analysis

The race will be run on Belmont's dirt surface at the classic distance of 10 furlongs. This is the same as major races such as the Kentucky Derby and the Breeder’s Cup Classic. The winner of the race will stamp an automatic bid to the Breeder’s Cup Classic at year end in California.

Because Belmont is a wide oval with a long stretch, handicappers often assume that it favors closer who have more room to run down the front runners. However, in many cases this is not the case. The length of the stretch can often cause deep closers to mistime their runs and come up empty in the final strides when they need to pass the final foes. 

Given the idiosyncrasies of Belmont, players may want to consider giving slight upgrades to jockeys with a proven track record at “Big Sandy”.

The Contenders

At the writing of this article the field has not yet been drawn for the race. All entries are listed as probable based on connections intentions.

    • Mystic Guide looks to fully establish Godolphin’s big three contenders for the Breeder’s Cup Classic. Essential Quality and Maxfield already look well on their way to making an appearance in the race. Stablemate Mystic Guide comes fresh off a win in the 2021 Grade 1 Dubai World Cup and will hope to keep the stable’s momentum going. One potential hurdle is that horses have at times struggled following travel to the Middle East, but the time off should have been more than enough to get the horse back into fitness.
    • Happy Saver goes out for Todd Pletcher. He is coming off a mile victory in an allowance race to start the 2021 campaign. The Super Saver colt is 5 for 5 lifetime including a victory over Mystic Guide in a Grade 1 stakes race at Belmont over Mystic Guide.
    • Max Player broke his maiden in the 2nd career start at Parx and then wheeled back to win the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct in his next start. Since then it has been a litany of disappointing finishes. The horse has not been in the money in his last 4 starts. 
    • Country Grammer will make his debut for Todd Pletcher. The horse started with Chad Brown before an estate dispersal of his owner. The new owner’s opted for Bob Baffert who trained the horse to a second place effort in the Grade 2 Californian and a victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup. Baffert was subsequently banned from New York racing following the positive drug test of Medina Spirit in the Kentucky Derby. Winstar Farms has now made another trainer shift to Pletcher making the horse eligible to run in this spot.  
      • Night Ops is trained by Brad Cox who has been on a roll lately. The horse has hit the board in each of the last 5 races. Helping to bolster the horse’s form are two 3rd place finishes behind Silver State who went on to run extremely well in upsetting the Met Mile field.
        • Moretti has been ultra consistent. The horse’s last out of the money finish was in November of 2019. In 3 races at Belmont the horse has finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. The Todd Pletcher trainee was the runner up to Tacitus in last year’s running of the Suburban. 
          • Prioritize is trained by James Bond and appears a little light compared to the rest of the probable entries. The horse has barely tried graded stakes company and has had all of his success in low level allowance races and high level claiming races. 
            • Informative has run against some very recognizable names in the sport including Maxfield, Ny Traffic, and Mischievous Alex. The problem is that until his last race at Monmouth the horse was nowhere close to any of them. He did win the 2021 Grade 3 Salvator Mile in his last race at Monmouth beating Ny Traffic, but Monmouth racing has been hard to gauge this year due to their unique crop rules so it’s hard to put a lot of emphasis on the dramatically improved performance there.

            Using DHP Tools to Handicap the Race

            Daily Horse Picks uses sophisticated AI to analyze running speed and pace styles that have advantages at each track. Data from Belmont shows 16 races have been run at 10 furlongs on the dirt.

            In those 16 races there has been extreme dominance by horses who have a speed designation of “Fastest”. Horses with this designation have won over half of the races. While it stands to reason that the fastest horses in the race should win, Belmont shows significantly higher percentages than many other tracks (usually closer to 30%) suggesting that the best horse often wins. This stands to reason as Belmont is largely considered to be one of the fairest race tracks in North America. 

            While pace designations do not have quite as strong of a trend, there is a definite advantage to being forwardly placed. Horses listed as “Leaders” or “Leads” have won 56% of the races.

            To access Daily Horse Picks speed and pace classifications for the Suburban, players can purchase one of Daily Horse Picks Premium packages. Players will gain access to all races from Belmont as well as the rest of the races from around the continent.