It’s July 4 and what’s more American than racing from Belmont Park? Nothing, of course! The feature on the card is the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at the distance of one mile on the turf course. The race is for three-year-olds and upward and is worth $150k. You can bet this horse race at Twin Spires.
Compliance Officer is the 5-2 morning line favorite. Save a loss in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, he hasn’t been defeated in eight tries since being claimed by trainer Bruce Brown. Last year’s campaign was highly successful and saw him rake in $305k and four stakes victories. Since then he has raced just once when he took the May 27 Kingston Stakes for New York breds. This will be only his third try against open company with Brown. Look for him to lay mid pack under JJ Castellano.
The six-year-old gelding Right One is tabbed as the second choice at 3-1. The Christophe Clement pupil was last seen failing at short odds in the Grade 3 Jaipur Stakes where he came up ¾ length short behind Upgrade. He hasn’t won since 2011’s Jaipur Stakes, but has several nice on the board finishes against top notch competition. A record of 4-2-1-1 over the Belmont turf course is a salute to his chances. Julien Leparoux retains the mount.
Boots Ahead is a vastly underrated prospect at odds of 15-1. He will race third off the shelf in this event after finishing fifth in the Jaipur last out. That race was too short for him at seven furlongs, but today’s mile distance suits him perfectly. He owns a record of 6-3-0-1 going this trip. The gelded son of Storm Boot is a stakes winner at Belmont Park and has recorded some of his best efforts at this track. Eddie Castro retains the mount for trainer George Weaver.
El Commodore might be joined in the front by 10-1 chance Yield Bogey. The eight-year-old gelding was last seen finishing third in the Jaipur. It was his first race since last year’s Grade 1 Nearartic at Woodbine. He could be sharper in his second race of the year. Patrick Kelly trains for jockey Edgar Prado.
Big time connections Joel Rosario and Shug McGaughey bring the 8-1 Voodoo Storm to this race. Rosario will be riding for the first time on this son of Storm Cat. The dark brown colt likes to close from well back and should benefit from what projects to be a healthy pace. This will be his first try in stakes company.
Gourmet Dinner would be a surprise for most handicappers. A second entry for Bruce Brown, he failed to produce a rally in the Colonial Turf Cup when last seen. Before that he was third beaten just a length in Monmouth Park’s Elkwood Stakes. A horse all around, he was a winner of the Delta Jackpot at 2 and placed in the Fountain of Youth the following year. Mike Luzzi gets the call to ride at 30-1.
Queen’splatekitten, Monument Hill and Clear Attempt round out the field. Uncle T Seven and Isn’t He Perfect are main track only entries.
Compliance Officer ought to be tough in this spot, but there are enough reasons to try to beat the 5-2 favorite. We like the 15-1 Boots Ahead to win this race. The Storm Boot gelding goes third off the shelf and has done some of his best running under today’s circumstances.