Kelso Handicap: Morello Takes on Older Stakes Horses for the First Time Here

Written by: Brian Zipse
Updated October 28, 2022
6 min read

Kelso Handicap Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2022 Kelso Handicap at Belmont at Aqueduct!





A Suarez

G Capuano




I Ortiz Jr

R N Falcone Jr




D Davis

S Asmussen




E Wilson

D Stewart




J D Acosta

N Cash




J Castellano

W Mott

Kelso Handicap Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($40 in total)

$20 Exacta Part Box - Morello and Baby Yoda = $40

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

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Kelso Handicap Predictions

A romping allowance winner over the track earlier this month, Baby Yoda headlines a field of six set for Saturday’s Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at the Belmont fall meet being held at Aqueduct. 

Despite his stature as the clear favorite in the $300,000 affair, the Bill Mott-trained gelding is still in search of his first-stakes victory. Second to Flightline in the Grade 1 Maliibu late last year, he is 0-for-6 lifetime in stakes races, but 7-of-14 overall. 

Fourth in the Grade 1 Forego two starts back, the son of Prospective overwhelmed allowance foes at Aqueduct three weeks ago at the same one-mile distance that he will see in the Kelso.

Chief among his on Saturday will be the recent return winner, Empty Tomb. Last year at Aqueduct, the son of Speightstown won a one-mile allowance race before running a good second in Queens County. 

Off for nearly ten months this year, the 6-year-old returned three weeks ago to handle allowance rivals at Delaware Park. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be in the saddle on Saturday. 

Another horse of interest in the Kelso is the 3-year-old Morello. A winner of three straight to begin his career, the son of Classic Empire was a good-looking winner of a pair of stakes at Aqueduct, including the Grade 3 Gotham. 

Unable to hang with the likes of Mo Donegal and Jack Christopher after that, he returned from a freshening to rally to victory in a 6-furlong allowance event at Laurel Park on October 8.

Kelso Handicap Predictions and Race Analysis

Baby Yoda

It’s hard to believe this former claimer has still not won a stakes race considering all the good races he’s run over the last few years. Grade 1 placed, for whatever reason he has just yet to get it done in a stakes race.

A sharp allowance winner in two of his last three races, which sandwich a decent fourth in the Grade 1 Forego, he looks well spotted to finally break through on Saturday. With good tactical speed, he should be involved early in this race without much pace. 

He also looked good over the track and at the one-mile distance last time. He is the horse to beat, but likely at low odds, he is worth a small bet against until he proves that he’s turned the corner at this level.

Empty Tomb

The second choice on the morning line, this veteran is also in search of his initial stakes victory. The closest he came was at Aqueduct last year when a good second behind Forewarned in the Queens County. 

Off that effort, he was thrown to the wolves in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup and promptly ran last. Off for more than nine months after that, he returned earlier this month with a solid allowance win in Delaware. 

Like the favorite, he has good tactical speed and should be involved early. I cannot dismiss him, but I feel like there are a few more talented horses in the race, so I am looking elsewhere.


One of the more talented horses in the race, joining Baby Yoda, is this lightly raced son of Classic Empire. Trained by Steve Asmussen, he has proven to be no world-beater, but he should fit in nicely as he takes on older stakes horses for the first time here.

A winner of his first three starts at Aqueduct, two of which were stakes races, he lost all chance early in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial while running against some of the best sophomore males in the nation. 

It got no easier next out in a Grade 1 against Jack Christopher, but his return race three weeks ago in Maryland was very similar to how he began his career. With no older killers in here, I think he has a big shot and he should offer much better value than Baby Yoda. He is the top pick.


Another one who cannot be dismissed on Saturday is this son of Shackleford. A consistent runner, he had been 0-for-6 in stakes races before finally breaking through in a restricted stakes race at Delaware Park last time. 

In fact, he has won three straight races overall at Delaware and looks to have the speed figures to have a say against this field. Obviously, this will be tougher than what he has been beating lately, but never better, he could prove to be a dangerous runner in the Kelso.

Title Ready

This veteran of 34 career races does have some back class to consider. The graded stakes winner leads the field with almost $800,000 in career earnings. He’s winless in six starts this year, though. 

Half of those losses came against the likes of Life Is Good, Knicks Go, and Olympiad, but in three easier spots this season, he has not been able to get it done. 

Is it possible that he can pop up and run a big race here? It is, but I just haven’t seen enough of late to get excited about his chances on Saturday.

Double Crown

The longshot of the field will be coming back on short rest after finishing fourth in the restricted Maryland Million Classic just seven days ago.

A winner of only one of eleven starts this year, he has been running well enough to usually cash a check, but not good enough to seriously threaten against stakes competition. A stakes winner sprinting a few years back, his recent form gives no indication that he is ready to win this.

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How to Watch the Kelso Handicap

WhatKelso Handicap (Grade 2)


Belmont at Aqueduct 


Saturday, October 29 -- 2:44pm Eastern time

How to Watch

Fox Sports 1



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Brian Zipse

Horse Racing Betting Analyst

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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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