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Strong field set for Met Mile

Experience and previous success on the Belmont Park dirt surface could be the deciding factor when a short but strong field gathers for the $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap at one mile May 28.

Six horses were entered for Metropolitan Handicap, one of four stakes -- three of them Grade 1 -- on the Memorial Day program at the New York racetrack. It's the 10th race on an 11-race card.

The field includes Grade 1 winner To Honor and Serve, three-for-three at the one-turn mile; 2011 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Caleb's Posse; Grade 1 winner Shackleford, who won the Churchill Downs Handicap in his last start; Grade 1 winner and strong one-turn runner Jackson Bend; 17-time winner Caixa Eletronica, won the three-turn Charles Town Classic in his last start; and New York-bred Saginaw, four-four-four since being claimed for $30,000 in March.

To Honor and Serve has been pointed to, and was the expected favorite for, the Metropolitan Handicap since his 2012 debut in the one-mile Westchester Stakes at Belmont April 28. The 4-year-old Bernardini colt toyed with the field to win going away in 1:34.34 on a fast track.

Owned by Live Oak Plantation and trained by Bill Mott, To Honor and Serve won the grade I Cigar Mile last fall in his final start of 2011, and won the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes at 2. Like the Westchester, those two stakes are at the one-turn mile distance.

To Honor and Serve, to be ridden by Jose Lezcano from post 1, is two-for-two at Belmont. He was assigned 120 pounds, one less than co-high weights Caleb's Posse and Jackson Bend.

McNeil Stables and Cheyenne Stables' Caleb's Posse, trained by Donnie Von Hemel, was a powerful winner of the Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs in his final start of 2011 and has returned in fine form this year. The 4-year-old Posse colt, a proven off-the-pace type, finished second by a neck in the six-furlong Tom Fool Handicap in March and second by a nose in the seven-furlong Carter Handicap at Aqueduct.

Caleb's Posse has been based at Arlington Park, where he turned in quick six-furlong workouts on the Polytrack. Rajiv Maragh, his regular rider since last summer, has the call from post 3 aboard Caleb's Posse, who will make his Belmont debut.

Robert LaPenta and Fred Brei's Jackson Bend, who nosed out Caleb's Posse in the Carter for his second Grade 1 win, drew post 6 on the outside for rider Corey Nakatani and trainer Nick Zito. Earlier this year the 5-year-old horse by Hear No Evil won the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Stakes at the one-turn mile distance at Gulfstream Park.