Belmont Park is the site for the Grade III Poker Stakes this Saturday, which features a solid six-horse field. Going as Race 4 on a 10-race program, the approximate post time for the Poker is 3:04 p.m. EST. Crucial stakes points will be on the line in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game, be sure to get involved!
#4 OFFERING PLAN (6-1) and #6 TAKEOVER TARGET (4-1) represent Chad Brown, one of America’s preeminent turf trainers; I prefer the latter. TAKEOVER TARGET comes into the Poker off a strong win in the Dixie Stakes at Pimlico in which he stormed home from off the pace to win, beating #1 GRAND ARCH (who finished third) in the process. This turf mile will be just a bit shorter than the Dixie, but that shouldn’t inhibit TAKEOVER TARGET’s chances. Look for him to come and collar pace-setting #3 OBVIOUSLY (9-5, morning-line favorite) inside the quarter-pole. Joel Rosario has the mount, and he had a very strong performance on Belmont Stakes day, winning three stakes and placing in two other races.
#4 OFFERING PLAN steps up off a win against lesser in which he needed every bit of the 8.5 furlongs to nip the field as the heavy favorite. He seems to be a bit too pace-dependent to place on top, but his customary late run might net him a share here. Javier Castellano, who had a monstrous 90-point performance on Belmont Stakes day, has the assignment.
The comfort factor is in play with #1 GRAND ARCH (7-2), who returns to his preferred distance of exactly one mile and retains regular rider Luis Saez. The Dixie, in which he faded just a bit while settling for third behind the top pick, was his first start since running a creditable third behind the world-class Tepin in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. With the rust shaken off, GRAND ARCH will be a tough customer.
OBVIOUSLY seems like a poor bet at 9-5, having not won a race since 2014. Previous attempts at shipping him to the east have not worked out well. Also, regular rider Joe Talamo decided not to make the trip this time around (Jose Lezcano picks up the mount). I’ll be betting against him.
The play: $5 exacta box 1/6 ($10)
DFJ angle: Joel Rosario ($9,000) and Javier Castellano ($11,000) are my preferred two riders in here for the reasons I stated above. Manny Franco ($9,000) doesn’t have a mount in this race but he will be aboard some live horses throughout Belmont’s card, including program favorite Outlash (6-5) in the opener, second-choice Super Allison (5-2) in Race 6, and third-choice Laquesta (4-1) in Race 7. He also rides longshot Frazil (20-1) in Race 9, who was in the midst of a hot streak (four straight ITM finishes) until he caught a wide trip and missed hitting the board last time out; he might get overlooked.
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