FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 2nd, 2020
BREEDERS’ CUP CHALLENGE SERIES CONTINUES THIS SATURDAY AT 5 P.M. ET ON NBC, LIVE FROM BELMONT PARK
Code of Honor, McKinzie & Vekoma Headline NBC’s Fourth of July “Met Mile” Broadcast, Part of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In – Presented by America’s Best Racing”
Live Coverage Will be Streamed on NBCSports.com & the NBC Sports app
ELMONT, N.Y. (July 2, 2020) – Led by Code of Honor, McKinzie and Vekoma, a free berth into the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) will be at stake this Saturday, July 4 at Belmont Park in the 1-mile, $500,000 Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (G1) live at 5 p.m. ET on NBC. The “Met Mile” broadcast is part of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In – presented by America’s Best Racing.”
Saturday’s one-hour program, which also will include the $150,000 Poker Stakes (G2), marks the third broadcast this year in the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In – presented by America’s Best Racing” on NBC and NBCSN from some of North America’s most iconic racetracks. The series leads to the 37th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., scheduled for Nov. 6-7 on NBC and NBCSN. Complete series TV schedule can be accessed here: https://www.breederscup.com/challenge-series/tv-schedule.
NBC Sports’ coverage will feature commentary and discussion led by host Ahmed Fareed and analyst Randy Moss from NBC Sports Group’s International Broadcast center in Stamford, Conn. Analyst and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, who won 15 Breeders’ Cup races, including five victories in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), joins the broadcast from his home in Florida, and handicapper Eddie Olczyk from his home in Chicago. Reporter Matt Bernier will be on-site at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
Live coverage will also be streamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs.
Code of Honor, a 4-year-old colt owned and bred by W.S. Farish and trained by Hall of Famer Claude R. “Shug” McGaughey, has won six of 11 starts, including his 2020 debut when he captured the 1 1/16-mile Westchester Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park on June 6. Last year, Code of Honor was elevated from third to second place in the Kentucky Derby (G1), following the disqualification of Maximum Security. He won three consecutive races after that, taking the Dwyer (G2) at Belmont, Runhappy Travers (G1) at Saratoga, and The Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park. In the Gold Cup, Code of Honor was moved from second to first due to interference by Vino Rosso. In the 1 ¼-mile Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita Park, Code of Honor finished seventh in a race won by Vino Rosso.
“He acts like he’s ready to run,” said McGaughey, who teamed up with Farish to win the Met Mile with eventual Champion Older Dirt Male Honor Code in 2015. “He’s had plenty of time off over the winter and it seems to have done him some good, so we’ll just see what he does.”
Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman’s 5-year-old McKinzie finished second to Mitole by three-quarters of a length in last year’s Met Mile. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, McKinzie has won eight races in 16 starts and amassed total earnings of more than $3.4 million. He won last year’s Whitney (G1) at Saratoga and finished second in Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic. After opening the season in February with an 11th-place finish in the $20 million Saudi Cup, McKinzie made a successful return on June 6, capturing the 7-furlong Triple Bend Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita by 1 ½ lengths.
McKinzie is named after the late racetrack executive and one of Baffert’s close friends, Brad McKinzie, who attended college with Baffert at the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program.
“It’s exciting having such a good horse named after our dear friend Brad McKinzie and his mother is still alive and so it keeps her going,” Baffert said. “She loves watching him run and it brings a tear to her eye when he runs. When you have a nice horse like this it’s so enjoying. Like his namesake, the horse has a great personality and when he performs, we’re always thinking of Brad.”
R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables’ 4-year-old Vekoma already has won a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race this year, capturing the 7-furlong Runhappy Carter Handicap (G1) by a widening 7 ¼ lengths at Belmont Park on June 6. That victory earned Vekoma an automatic starting position for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). Trained by George Weaver and ridden by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, Vekoma has won five races in seven starts, including last year’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.
Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s Mr Freeze has finished in the top three in his last seven starts. A 4-year-old son of To Honor and Serve, Mr Freeze began the year on Jan. 25 with a second-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Dale Romans and ridden by Manny Franco, Mr Freeze won the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) one month later, and finished third in the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn Handicap (G2) on May 2.
The 1-mile Poker Stakes is led by Gary Barber’s 5-year-old mare Got Stormy, who is seeking her first win this year in her fourth start. Trained by Mark Casse, Got Stormy had an extraordinary second half of 2019. In three consecutive races against male rivals, she won the Fourstardave (G1) at Saratoga, and finished second in subsequent Grade 1 starts in the Woodbine Mile and in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile. She closed out last year winning the Matriarch (G1) at Del Mar.
ABOUT BREEDERS’ CUP
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred horse racing’s year-end Championships, as well as the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The Breeders’ Cup is also a founding member of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, an organization composed of industry leaders committed to advancing safety measures in Thoroughbred racing and improving the well-being of equine and human athletes.
The 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Championship races, is scheduled to be held on November 6-7 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky and features a total of $35 million in purses and awards. The event will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
NBC SPORTS GROUP AND HORSE RACING: NBC Sports Group is the exclusive home to the most important and prestigious events in horse racing, including the Triple Crown, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Royal Ascot, and Pegasus World Cup Invitational Series. NBC has been the exclusive home of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes since 2001, and the Belmont Stakes since 2011, when NBC Sports Group reassembled the Triple Crown.
ABOUT AMERICA’S BEST RACING
America’s Best Racing is a multimedia fan development and awareness-building platform designed to increase the profile and visibility of North America’s best Thoroughbred racing events with a primary focus on the sport’s lifestyle and competition. You can follow America’s Best Racing at americasbestracing.net as well as on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.