Projected should prevail in Poker Stakes

The Grade III, $300,000 Poker Stakes is the Father’s Day feature at Belmont Park. Chad Brown sends out a troika for this one-mile turf test, including likely favorite PROJECTED. The Poker will go as Race 8 on a 10-race Sunday program, with post time estimated for 5:13 p.m. EST. Be sure to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#2 PROJECTED (6-5, morning-line favorite) seeks his first stakes score since coming to the states in March. He was off the board in the Gulfstream’s Canadian Turf before taking an allowance at Keeneland and placing in Pimlico’s Dixie Stakes on Preakness day. The last two speed figures he’s earned make PROJECTED squarely the one to beat. Joel Rosario will have the assignment.

#7 LUBASH (15-1) typically runs in the New York-bred ranks but can hold his own in open company. The ten-year-old son of Freud is still putting up respectable speed figures and he’s taken third in two straight stakes (the Grade III Miami Mile and the Kingston) to start the year. Hall-of-Fame pilot John Velazquez will be aboard LUBASH, who absolutely loves this turf course (28-10-7-3).

#1 NIGHT PROWLER (8-1) is a two-time stakes winner for Brown that fits with this bunch on speed figures. He’s never run out of the money at Belmont (4-2-1-1) and profiles as the one to catch based on his latest outing. Any early initiative he shows under Brown’s go-to rider, Irad Ortiz Jr., could play to his advantage in a race loaded with late closers.

The play: $4 exacta 2/1,7, $2 win 7 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Irad Ortiz Jr. has nine mounts on Sunday, none of which are above 8-1 in odds. He rides several live horses for Brown in addition to NIGHT PROWLER, including Minsky Moment (8-5) in Race 5, Your Love (9-5) in Race 6, and Threefiveindia (2-1) in Race 9, all of which are favored.

Joel Rosario is a sensible alternative. He has seven mounts in total, two of which are program favorites. He also has a live two-year-old firster (Hemp Hemp Hurray, 3-1) for Wesley Ward in Race 1.

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