Met Mile Tops Big Holiday Weekend at Belmont

One of the most exciting weekends on the New York Racing Association schedule is the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, which brings together the classic generation and the older horse division.

The highlight is Monday's $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap, which, as usual, is expected to draw top-class sprinters moving up to a mile, and top-class two-turn horses moving down in distance. It is the intrigue of not knowing what will happen when the two forces collide that makes the Met Mile one of the most sought after prizes in American racing. It is the race in which breeders all over the country are looking for potential stallions who excelled at a mile.

The classy sprinters in this year's race are headed by Peeping Tom, perhaps the most improved horse in training; Alannan, coming off a track-record score in the Lane's End Churchill Downs Handicap; and Trippi, last year's Vosburgh winner who is looking for his first victory of 2001. Heading the group of middle distance horses are Traditionally, winner of the Oaklawn Handicap, Cat's at Home, back-to-back winner of the Excelsior and Westchester handicaps; and the hard-hitting Left Bank, a stablemate of Trippi. Also expected are Exchange Rate, from the D. Wayne Lukas stable; and the Brazilian-bred Blade Prospector. Listed as questionable is Exciting Story.

Peeping Tom, owned by Flatbird Stable, burst on the scene last year when he finished a fast-closing second in the Cigar Mile. The 4-year-old gelding proved that race was no fluke when he came back to win his next four starts, including the Carter, Toboggan, and General George handicaps.

Whether any Belmont Stakes hopefuls come out of Saturday's Peter Pan Stakes is immaterial right now, as a classy competitive field should provide a good deal of fireworks. The 1 1/8-mile race is expected to draw a field of six or seven, headed by Hero's Tribute, E Dubai, I Love Silver, and Meetyouatthebrig. Other definites are Dayton Flyer and Sirpa, with Telescam listed as questionable.

Sunday's feature, the seven-furlong Jaipur Handicap on the turf, will be headed by Affirmed Success, Strategic Mission, Gone Fishin, and Aly's Alley, with Airbourne Command, Montezuma's Gold and Testify completing the field. Possibles are Tiger Shark and I'm Sentimental.