Hill Prince Stakes (Belmont at Aqueduct): Shug McGaughey Could Hold a Winning Hand

Written by: Brian Zipse
Updated October 21, 2022
8 min read

Hill Prince Stakes Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2022 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont at Aqueduct!

J LezcanoC McGaughey III
J AlvaradoT Pletcher
D DavisR Handal
A AdornoJ Lawrence II
J CastellanoN Drysdale
I Ortiz JrT Pletcher
F PratC Brown
M FrancoC Brown
M FrancoM Maker
J OrtizC McGaughey III

Hill Prince Stakes Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($60 in total)

$10 Exacta Part Wheel - Limited Liability over Unanimous Consent, Mackinnon, Be Better and Celestial City = $40

$5 Exacta Part Wheel - Unanimous Consent, Mackinnon, Be Better and Celestial City over Limited Liability  = $20

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Limited Liability (4/1).

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Hill Prince Stakes

Trainer Shug McGaughey could hold a winning hand when he sends out the pair of Celestial City and Limited Liability to top a field of ten 3-year-old males on the turf in Saturday’s Grade 2 Hill Prince Stakes at the Belmont fall meet being held at Aqueduct.

Most recently, Celestial City was an allowance winner over the Aqueduct turf course four weeks ago.

The son of Uncle Mo previously had a solid summer at Saratoga when third in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame and then second behind the highly regarded Annapolis in the Grade 3 Saranac.

Limited Liability has been knocking on the door of graded stakes ever since winning an allowance race at Keeneland in his seasonal debut.

The son of Kitten’s Joy has run a bad race while finishing third in both the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge and the Grade 3 Virginia Derby, and in between was beaten less than four lengths in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby.

Chief among their opposition in the 9-furlong Hill Prince will be a pair from trainer Chad Brown. Unanimous Consent and Mackinnon are both stakes winners on the grass.

Unanimous Consent, a son of Almanzor, was the winner of the Woodhaven Stakes this spring at Aqueduct. Most recently he was right behind Limited Liability in fourth-place finishes in the Pennine Ridge and the Virginia Derby.

Meanwhile, Mackinnon will make his first start for the Brown barn. Third, in last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar, the two-time stakes-winning son of American Pharoah comes from California in search of his first win of the year.

Hill Prince Stakes Predictions and Race Analysis

Celestial City

The first of two from trainer Shug McGaughey, this son of Uncle Mo was unraced at 2 but has already made eight starts on the turf this year. His only two wins came in a maiden race back in March and a recent allowance score at Aqueduct four weeks ago.

In between, he had several good efforts, including a pair of in-the-money finishes in graded stakes races at Saratoga. In fact, of his last three races, he looks to fit quite well in this race.

This will be his longest race yet, but he has run well a sixteenth of a mile shorter. He is not a star, but a consistent, hard-hitting horse who is likely to be involved once again when the real running begins.

Limited Liability

This son of Kitten’s Joy would probably be a graded stakes winner if he had a little bit better racing luck. A maiden winner at Saratoga and an allowance winner at Keeneland, all of his other five races have come in graded stakes.

In those, he’s fired every time with a solid late rally. Third, in four of them, he has not been afforded much pace or racing luck to set the table, including last out when he was hampered by a rough trip in the Grade 3 Virginia Derby.

With his lack of early speed, he will need to work out a good trip, but it seems like he is due to win one of these. I think he is the best horse in this wide-open race, and he is the top pick.


This son of American Pharoah was a very good 2-year-old for trainer Doug O’Neill. He won two turf stakes, before running third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. This year, though, he is 0-for-4. Having said that, none of his races were bad and only the last two came on grass.

After finishing sixth, but beaten only 2 3/4 lengths in the Grade 2, Del Mar Derby, last time, he transferred to the East Coast and the powerful barn of trainer Chad Brown. The change in scenery might do the colt some good as he looks to regain his winning ways.

Off back class alone, he is a threat here but will need to show some improvement for his new barn to win this.

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Grand Sonata

One of two from the Todd Pletcher barn, this Medaglia d’Oro colt is a two-time stakes winner this year. Both came early this year down at Gulfstream Park. He is 0-for-5 since but has kept good company in both Kentucky and New York.

Competitive in four of those losses, he will need to regain the form seen when he finished only a length behind in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby back in July. Unfortunately, his last two have not been as good.

I do see him as a possibility here, but after a long campaign, and two mediocre performances, I am not ready to back him in this spot.

Unanimous Consent

After winning his first three career races, including the Woodhaven Stakes over the Aqueduct turf course, this Chad Brown trainee has finished fourth in his last two. Both were graded stakes and he was competitive in each, though.

In fact, he was not far behind my top pick Limited Liability in both of them. Back in New York, and taking his third crack at graded stakes racing, he could be even tougher this time around.

If the consistent English bred can get the first jump on his rival, he could be the biggest threat in the race. I am expecting another solid effort and a top-two finish would come as no surprise.

Be Better

The second from the Pletcher barn, this son of Uncle Mo is the wildcard in the field. Bred to handle the grass, he will be making his first career start on the turf after winning 2-of-4 on the main track. His only two losses came against good horses, although being eased last time out is a concern.

He’s had a solid string of workouts since, though, and many of those came on the grass. Assuming he takes to his new surface, he might also have the advantage of having the most speed in a race with very little.

Running on turf for the first time and coming out of poor performance, you can’t be overconfident, but there are plenty of positive signs to believe he can be a real threat here.

St Anthony

This Noble Mission gelding is a two-time stakes winner on the grass this year, but both came in listed stakes at smaller tracks. Eighth, but not that far out of it, in the Grade 1 Del Mar Derby two starts back, he left California for the first time last time to run at Kentucky Downs.

His fourth-place finish in the Gun Runner Stakes wasn’t bad, but he seems to be just a cut below when matched up against graded stakes caliber horses. He’s eligible to compete with these, but he is not one I like as much as the horses above him.

Wicked Fast

Claimed by trainer Joe Shar two starts back for $35,000, this son of Tourist will be making his second graded stakes start in a row and this time for the new barn of Mike Maker.

Last out he finished a well-beaten sixth in the Grade 3 Jockey Club Derby. This is a little lighter than that one, but he will still need to show some improvement to be successful on Saturday.

The good news is that he has crossed the wire first in three races on the turf in nine tries. As long shots go, you could do worse, but I do like others better.


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This son of Constitution has yet to win on three starts on the grass, all of which have come in allowance or optional claiming races. Thoroughly beaten in his two previous graded stakes tries on other surfaces, he looks to be a real longshot in this spot.

His last was a bit of an improvement when finishing fourth, beaten three lengths to older allowance runners, but I still find him hard to recommend.

Nantasket Beach

This shipper from Delaware comes to the Hill Prince off a 7 3/4-length maiden score on soft turf last month. It was the second try on turf for the son of Street Boss, who had finished second in a maiden race before that.

While his two races on the grass show promise, this will likely be too large a jump from non-winners at Delaware Park to a graded-stakes affair in New York.


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How to Watch the Hill Prince Stakes

Hill Prince Stakes Race Information
RaceHill Prince Stakes (Grade 2)
LocationBelmont Park
TimeSaturday, October 22 -- 3:48 pm Eastern time
How to WatchFox Sports 1
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Brian Zipse

Horse Racing Betting Analyst

Horse Racing
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Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
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