Clyde’s Image has the heart to deal with club of turf aces in Poker

The Father’s Day feature at Belmont Park is the Grade III, $300,000 Poker Stakes. The one-mile turf heat drew a well-matched field of nine. Post time for the Poker, Race 8 of a scheduled nine, is 5:18 p.m. ET.

#1 CLYDE’S IMAGE (7-2) has gone off at big prices in each of his last two starts but has given a good account of himself both times. He completed the exacta behind Delta Prince in the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile two starts back before taking third in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic when last seen. CLYDE’S IMAGE posted a solid pair of breezes over this course and lures Javier Castellano. The drop in class should be greatly beneficial.

#4 GUCCI FACTOR (5-1) has won four of his last five races, including Belmont’s Kingston Stakes off a near six-month layoff last time out. The Christophe Clement trainee fits with these Poker foes on speed figures but takes a step up the class ladder. GUCCI FACTOR should figure prominently in the wagering with Joel Rosario aboard.

#9 DR. EDGAR (3-1, morning-line favorite) settled for second on soft going in the Fort Marcy last time out. Prior to that he had won Gulfstream’s Appleton Stakes, posting a career-high speed figure. DR. EDGAR loves Belmont, as he owns an 8-4-3-0 lifetime record over the strip. Dylan Davis retains the assignment in the Poker.

#8 BREAKING THE RULES (6-1) most recently misfired in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. However, the Poker is a logical spot for him based on his efforts from two and three starts ago, where he was second in the Canadian Turf and first in the Tropical Park Derby (both at Gulfstream). BREAKING THE RULES gets what could be a favorable rider switch on Sunday to Hall-of-Famer John Velazquez.

The play: $4 exacta 1/4,9, $2 exacta 1/8 ($10)

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