SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Facing the stiffest competition of his career, Post Time finished second in the $1 million Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, one of the most prestigious races on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

Coming off a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes at Aqueduct, the gray son of Frosted out of Vielsam jumped up to his first Grade 1 in a field headlined by White Abarrio, winner of last year’s Grade 1 Whitney Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic, and National Treasure, winner of this year’s Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup and last year’s Preakness.

But Post Time, owned by Ellen Charles’ Hillwood Stable, had done just about everything asked of him by trainer Brittany Russell leading up to this race. He’d won eight times in 10 starts and finished no worse than third in the other two. And Saturday was no exception.

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National Treasure jumped out to a sizable early lead. Hoist the Gold sat half a length behind him going into the backstretch, but the next-closest horse was five lengths behind those two. Coming down the stretch, National Treasure kicked away and won by 6 1/4 lengths. But a strong surge toward the finish by Post Time, ridden by Russell’s husband, Sheldon, secured second place by a neck over Hoist the Gold.

Post Time, shown running at Laurel Park, continued a series of strong showings Saturday on the undercard of the Belmont Stakes. (Courtesy of the Maryland Jockey Club).

“That was awesome,” Brittany Russell said. “We are over the moon. I’m so excited, man. He showed up [and] he ran big. National Treasure ran a huge race. To run second behind him, that’s a success for us.”

The result added to the distinctively Maryland flavor over the first three days of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, which was moved to the historic Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York as Belmont Park undergoes a $455 million overhaul.

On Thursday, Maryland-bred Studlydoright won the Tremont Stakes for 2-year-olds for two Laurel Park mainstays, trainer John J. Robb and jockey Xavier Perez. Then, trainer H. Graham Motion, based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, saddled the winner of the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup Stakes. By finishing first, The Grey Wizard earned entry into the Grade 1 Melbourne Cup in Australia, which has a purse worth approximately $5.5 million.

Turf sprinter Future Is Now, a homebred for R. Larry Johnson, kept it going Friday by following up her win in The Very One Stakes at Pimlico Race Course with a victory in the Grade 2 Intercontinental Stakes. The 4-year-old filly is trained by Michael Trombetta, who also keeps stables at Fair Hill.

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A horse bred by Johnson, Mindframe, nearly became the first Maryland-bred to win a Triple Crown race since Caveat won the 1983 Belmont. The horse finished second, half a length behind Dornoch, in the 156th edition.

Post Time was bred in Maryland by Dr. Thomas Bowman and his wife, Chris; Dr. Brooke Bowman; and Milton P. Higgins III.

Speaking with The Baltimore Banner in the days leading up to the Metropolitan, Thomas Bowman likened his experience to jumping from Triple-A to the major leagues. He said it’s one of the highlights of his prolific career as a breeder and owner, even though he doesn’t retain a stake in Post Time.

“There’s no breeders’ rewards; there’s no financial thing coming in here,” he said. “The big thing is the sense of accomplishment. This is what, theoretically, all people are trying to accomplish, to be associated with the best of the competitive horses. And this is the best we’ve ever accomplished.”

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