A list of likely starters for the five Grade 1 events on the Belmont Stakes day undercard June 7 has been released by the track's racing office, headed by the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap.
The one-turn mile event traditionally run on Memorial Day weekend is headed by 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice.
Trained by Todd Pletcher for Cot Campbell's Dogwood Stable, Palace Malice has won all three of his starts in 2014. The son of Curlin commenced his year in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, which he won by a head, and followed that victory up with wins in the New Orleans Handicap and the Westchester Stakes.
Breeders' Cup Mile winner Goldencents is likely to join Palace Malice in the starting gate for the Met Mile. The 4-year-old colt is unraced since a seventh-place finish in the Cigar Mile Handicap. In 2013, the son of Into Mischief captured the Santa Anita Derby and was among the favorites for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. After a string of runner-up finishes, including the Bing Crosby, Pat O'Brien, and Santa Anita Sprint Championship, he broke through with a sensational win in the Breeders' Cup Mile.
The star-studded field is also likely to include Broadway Empire, Capo Bastone, Central Banker, Clearly Now, Declan's Warrior, Moreno, Normandy Invasion, Romansh, Shakin It Up, and Vyjack.
The $1 million Ogden Phipps Stakes is likely to feature three finalists from the 2013 Eclipse Award's 3-year-old filly division, including champion Beholder, who shipped to Belmont Park March 29 from Southern California.
Trained by Richard Mandella for Spendthrift Farm, Beholder won five of seven starts in 2013, capping her year with a triumph in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. The two-time Eclipse Award winner also captured three other grade I races: the Las Virgenes, the Santa Anita Oaks, and the Zenyatta, and finished second in the Kentucky Oaks. Beholder won the Santa Lucia by 5 ¼ lengths at Santa Anita Park to kick off her 2014 campaign.
Last year's Kentucky Oaks winner, Princess of Sylmar, is also likely to be a part of the Ogden Phipps field. The daughter of Majestic Warrior rattled off four Grade 1 wins in a row in 2013: the Kentucky Oaks, the Coaching Club American Oaks, the Alabama, and the Beldame. Her year culminated with a start in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, but she ran an uncharacteristically dull race and finished sixth.
Close Hatches, trained by Bill Mott for Juddmonte Farms, is also expected to join the fray. She won two Grade 1 races in 2013: the Mother Goose and the Cotillion, and has already won two graded stakes in 2014, including a win in the Apple Blossom Handicap.
Classic Point and My Wandy's Girl are likely to start, as well, while Belle Gallantey and Lunar Surge are possible.
The $1 million Knob Creek Manhattan Stakes is shaping up to be a big field of older male turf runners, featuring 2012 Breeders' Cup Turf hero Little Mike.
Formerly trained by Dale Romans, Little Mike is now in the barn of his breeder, Carlo Vaccarezza. In 2013, the son of Spanish Steps won only one race -- the Turf Classic Invitational -- and contested the Breeders' Cup Turf and the Longines Hong Kong Cup. He has raced only once in 2014, taking the Flying Pidgeon at Gulfstream Park by 2 ¾ lengths.
Imagining, who became a Grade 1 winner in the Man o' War May 11 at Belmont, is also likely to contest the Manhattan. Trained by Shug McGaughey for Phipps Stable, the 6-year-old son of Giant's Causeway has won eight of 16 lifetime starts, and is four-for-six since adding blinkers in August of last year.
Seek Again, who came within a head of defeating reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan in his last start, appears set to join the field. His narrow defeat, which came in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, was his first start in 2014, and only his second North American outing.
Also likely for the race are Amira's Prince, Finnegans Wake, Five Iron, Grandeur, Hey Leroy, Kaigun, and Real Solution. Boisterous, Rookie Sensation, and Speaking of Which are possible.
The $750,000 Longines Just A Game is likely to boast a deep, competitive field of filly and mare turf runners led by Discreet Marq.
Trained by Christophe Clement for Patricia Generazio, the 4-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat -- who worked five furlongs in 1:00.62 May 30 -- made her 2014 debut in the Jenny Wiley. She finished second behind another likely Just A Game starter, Hard Not to Like. Discreet Marq's 2013 campaign featured a win in the Del Mar Oaks, as well as second-place finishes in the Garden City and Matriarch.
Also exiting the Jenny Wiley and likely for the Just A Game is last year's winner, Stephanie's Kitten, who was eighth in her first start since July 27 when she finished third in the Diana Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
The runner-up from last year's Just A Game, Better Lucky, is probable to enter the starting gate again this year. Trained by Tom Albertrani for Godolphin Stable, the 5-year-old Ghostzapper mare has won a pair of Grade 1 races in her career: the 2013 edition of the First Lady and the 2012 edition of the Matriarch.
Others likely for the Just A Game are Coffee Clique, Dame Marie, Filimbi, Hard Not to Like, Somali Lemonade, Strathnaver, and Waterway Run. Ready Signal and Unlimited Budget are possible.
The $750,000 TVG Acorn Stakes is likely to feature the second and third-place finishers from the recent Kentucky Oaks.
My Miss Sophia, who finished second behind Untapable in the 1 ⅛-mile test at Churchill Downs, is set to turn back to a mile in the Acorn. The last time she went a mile, she took a maiden race at Gulfstream Park by 11 lengths.
Unbridled Forever, third in the Kentucky Oaks, has shown an affinity for one-turn racing. The daughter of Unbridled Song broke her maiden by 5 ¼ lengths at Churchill Downs, running seven furlongs in an eye-catching 1:21.91 seconds.
The deep field is also likely to include Aqua Regia, Artemis Agrotera, Fashion Plate, Fiftyshadesofgold, House Rules, Lady Paradime, Our Amazing Rose, Sweet Reason, Sweet Whiskey, and Vero Amore. La Madrina, Risque Reality, and She's a Tiger are possible.