Poker Stakes (Belmont Park) Predictions & Betting Odds
If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Raging Bull (8/5)
Poker Stakes Post Position and Odds
|1||RAGING BULL||8/5 |
|I Ortiz Jr||C. Brown|
|J Rosario||N. Drysdale|
|E Cancel||C. Brown|
|4||GET SMOKIN||3/1 |
|J Alvarado||T. Bush|
|5||SANCTUARY CITY||15/1 |
|M Franco||J. Ferraro|
|6||FRONT RUN THE FED||6/1 |
|J Lezcano||C. Brown|
|J Ferrer||A. Escobar|
|8||TELL YOUR DADDY||15/1 |
|L Saez||T. Morley|
|J Ortiz||W. Mott|
In his first start since rolling to victory in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile in April at Keeneland, Raging Bull rates top billing in a field of nine older turf horses set for Saturday’s Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park.
One of three from the barn of Chad Brown in the field, the 6-year-old son of Dark Angel will be making his first start outside of Grade 1 company in well over two years in the $250,000 grass feature. Although he has only won twice in his previous 11 starts, the five-time graded stakes winner holds a clear class edge over the field. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be in the saddle, as he was for the score in the Maker’s Mark Mile.
Chief among his rivals is the Thomas Bush trained Get Smokin. Two years the junior of Raging Bull, the speedy chestnut gelding will be looking for his second straight stakes win at Belmont Park, having wired the Seek Again four weeks ago. The son of Get Stormy will also be in search of his fourth stakes victory in his last six starts
Adding a bit of extra spice to Sunday’s one-mile test on the turf will be the 7-year-old female, Oleksandra. The Australian-bred mare is a three-time stakes winner, none bigger than her score in the Grade 1 Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park one year ago.
Poker Stakes Best Bets
Here are my plays ($50 in total)
$10 Exacta Box – Raging Bull and Get Smokin = $20
$10 Exacta part wheel – Raging Bull over Get Smokin, Front Run the Fed and Penalty = $30
Poker Stakes Top Pick
|Top Pick Raging Bull (8/5)|
How to watch the Poker Stakes
|Poker Stakes Race Information|
|What||Poker Stakes (Grade 3)|
|Time||Sunday, June 20 — 5:12 pm Eastern time|
|How to Watch||Fox Sports 1|
Poker Stakes Race Analysis
Bred in France, this late runner has been an influence in middle distance races at the highest level for several years.
With his victory last time in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland, he shows no signs of slowing down at the age of 6 for trainer Chad Brown.
He’ll need to uncork his powerful turn of foot early enough to sprint home for the win, but he has plenty of solid experience in getting up at the one-mile trip.
There are several interesting turf horses in this field, but none can come close to his level of class.
He is the one to beat, and I like his chances. He is the top pick.
Breaking from the number four post, look for this speedy son of Get Stormy to go right out to the early lead and see how far he can take them.
That alone makes him a danger, but with three wins on the Belmont turf, including two-stakes wins at a mile, you can see why he is the top threat to the favorite.
Having said that, there are a couple of horses in here with enough early speed who could make his job on the front all the more difficult before the closing rush of Raging Bull.
He’s a really nice middle-distance turf horse, but I have a feeling that the favorite will run by him again as he did two starts back.
The wildcard of the field, this one like the favorite, is from the powerhouse turf barn of Chad Brown.
He was a very good 3-year-old over in France, but that was two seasons ago, and he has not run since. Brown is a master with having these imports ready to roll, but the near 2-year layoff is an obvious concern.
That fact, coupled with the one-mile distance, which is shorter than he ever ran in France, has me believing that this will be a prep for longer races in the summer.
I wouldn’t at all be surprised by a strong effort, but there just seems to be too many question marks with him as one of the favorites, for me to fully support.
Front Run the Fed
The third from the barn of Chad Brown, this one has put together a solid turf record while lightly raced over the past four seasons.
His prep race in the Elusive Quality, in which he just missed the win, was very solid, and of the three Brown runners, he looks like the most likely to turn the screws on Get Smokin early.
It looks like his best distance is just a little shorter than this, but I would not be surprised at all to see him right in the thick of things in mid-stretch.
The lone female in the field is an accomplished Grade 1 winner, and has a perfect 3-for-3 record at Belmont Park. Unfortunately, it is hard to know if the 7-year-old daughter of Animal Kingdom is as good as she once was.
This will also be a stretch-out in distance for the late-running sprinter.
I respect her, and clearly, she is right at home at Belmont Park, but this spot might just be a little out of her comfort zone. Of the late runners, Raging Bull is the bigger threat.
Tell Your Daddy
This son of Scat Daddy exits a pair of hard trying stakes races over the Belmont Park turf course in his last two.
While he did not win either the Elusive Quality or the Seek Again, he was right there in both. He seems to be in career-best form for new trainer TomMorley, but the Poker represents his toughest test yet.
Once again, I would suspect he’ll stalk Get Smokin, but the heat will really turn up in the last quarter mile. He is in with a chance, but I prefer others.
Trained by Bill Mott, this one does come in off a nice win over the Belmont Park turf course.
The sharp victory at 7 furlongs does give some credibility to his chances on Sunday, but it did come against allowance company.
In fact, he has never won a stakes race in his 16-race career, and this looks like a tough spot to earn his first.
Having said that, at his best, he can compete with strong horses. If you are looking for a longshot to use in the exotics, this could be one to give a second look.
This improving 4-year-old son of Temple City comes into the Poker off a three-race winning streak, including over the same course and distance last time.
None of the three came in stakes racing, however, and only the most recent came in open company.
Because of this, I am hard-pressed to like his chances despite his excellent current form.
It’s not often you see a horse who won off by more than ten lengths as the longest shot in the race, but this lightly-raced son of Tapit is making a gigantic step up in class.
He only broke his maiden two starts back at Tampa Bay Downs and in his romp, it came in a conditioned allowance race which was taken off the turf at Monmouth Park.
He may have some talent, but he’s not for me in this spot.
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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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