ELMONT, N.Y. -- Tom's Ready returns to the scene of his biggest victory when he tries to upset a seemingly wide-open renewal of the Grade 1, $1.2 million Metropolitan Handicap, one of 10 stakes on Saturday's 13-race card highlighted by the 149th renewal of the Belmont Stakes.
A field of 12 was entered Wednesday for the Met Mile, where Mor Spirit, the winner of the Grade 3 Steve Sexton Mile at Lone Star Park last out, drew post 9 and was installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite by Eric Donovan, oddsmaker for the New York Racing Association.
Last year on Belmont Day, Tom's Ready rallied from last in a 12-horse field to upset the Grade 2 Woody Stephens at odds of 7-1. Tom's Ready, trained by Dallas Stewart, enters the Met Mile off a narrow third-place finish behind Limousine Liberal in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.
"He ran hard in the mud, being off seven months, he came out of it good, had a good work coming into the race," Stewart said. "He's healthy, he likes the track, he ran big here last year."
Connect, the Grade 3 Westchester winner, would have been favored in the Met Mile but was withdrawn due to injury. His rider, Javier Castellano, has picked up the mount on Tom's Ready.
The Met Mile field, from the rail out: Inside Straight, Rally Cry, Denman's Call, Solid Wager, Sharp Azteca, Mohaymen, Economic Model, Tom's Ready, Mor Spirit, Virtual Machine, Tommy Macho, and Awesome Slew.
Wohler tries New York again
The German-based trainer Andreas Wohler has shipped 17 horses to the U.S. to run in graded stakes since 2001, when Silvano won the Grade 1 Arlington Million and five other runners in his stable finished second.
This week, Wohler has shipped two horses to New York, including Potemkin for Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Manhattan Stakes. Potemkin, a 6-year-old German-bred by New Approach, has won nine of 15 races, including the Group 1 Premio Roma in Italy last year. In his first start this year, Potemkin finished seventh in the Group 1 Prix Ganay at St. Cloud.
"My horses always need a race to get going," Wohler said Wednesday. "It was not the best trip, he was wide with no cover, and it was a step too far for him anyway."
Wohler, who also sent Red Cardinal to run in Friday's Belmont Gold Cup, said Potemkin "would appreciate" the firm turf expected here on Saturday.
The Manhattan field, from the rail out: Beach Patrol, Wake Forest, World Approval, Time Test, Ascend, Potemkin, Divisidero, Applicator, and Sadler's Joy.
Songbird tops Phipps
Following a flight that originated in Southern California and stopped in Kentucky, two-time champion Songbird arrived in New York on Wednesday to make her 4-year-old debut in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes.
Songbird will be ridden by Mike Smith and drew post 5 in a field that includes Carina Mia, who finished second last year to Songbird in the Coaching Club American Oaks and Cotillion. In post-position order, the field is: Highway Star, Paid Up Subscriber, Factor of Faith, Verve's Tail, Songbird, Bar of Gold, and Carina Mia.
In other Saturday stakes
* Abel Tasman and Salty, the first- and fourth-place finishers from the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, head a field of eight in the Grade 1, $700,000 Acorn Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going a one-turn mile.
The field, from the rail out: Union Strike, Florida Fabulous, Abel Tasman, Nikki My Darling, Benner Island, Tequilita, Sweet Loretta, and Salty.
* Dickinson, who has turned around a moribund career with a transfer to turf, heads a field of seven entered in the Grade 1, $700,000 Just a Game Stakes going a mile. Dickinson is 5 for 6 on turf, including a head victory over Lady Eli in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland on April 15.
Dickinson drew the rail and will be ridden by Paco Lopez. Outside of her, in post-position order, will be Roca Rojo, Prize Exhibit, Harmonize, Celestine, Sassy Little Lila, and Antonoe.
* Recruiting Ready, the winner of the $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes at Pimlico three weeks ago, drew post 3 in a field of 11 for the Grade 2, $500,000 Woody Stephens for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.
* Send It In and Tu Brutus, separated by a half-length in the Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct in April, top a field of eight entered to run 1 1/2 miles in the Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational.
* Pure Sensation and Disco Partner, the one-two finishers in the Grade 3, $300,000 Jaipur Invitational last year, head a field of 10 entered for the 34th renewal of the six-furlong turf race. Pure Sensation drew post 3, and Disco Partner drew post 2.
* West Coast, the runner-up to Senior Investment in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes, drew post 7 in a field of 10 for the $150,000 Easy Goer Stakes for 3-year-olds. The 1 1/16-mile race goes as the second on the card.
Sonic Mule, who drew the rail, is the only stakes winner in the field, having won the Mucho Macho Man on Jan. 7 at Gulfstream.