Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 3 Poker Stakes will be contested at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York this Saturday, June 13. Horses four years old and upward will be after the winner's share of the $300,000 when they saddle up and go one mile on Belmont Park's turf track.
A strong field of 10 will take to the track in the Poker Stakes - race 5on Belmont Park's Saturday card. Post time is 3:24 PM. Here is a look into the past performances of all 10 entries for this Grade 3 stakes.
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2015 Poker Stakes Race Favorite Entries
Ironicus - Shug McGaughey trained colt has placed in seven of eight career starts - three wins, three seconds and a third place finish. He enters off a terrific upset win at 7-1 odds in his stakes debut - the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths at Pimlico May 1 after a second and a first respectively in a pair of Allowance races to start his year. Ironicus has been mighty impressive so far, has hit the board in all seven career grass starts and hopes that jockey Javier Castellano can keep that roll going from post 7.
Long On Value - Bill Mott trained colt has won three of his last six starts but has failed to place in to others over that span. Last time out was a fourth as 5-2 favorite in the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico May 16 after an OK third in the Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile and a good win in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Stakes at 10-1 odds at Gulfstream February 21. He ended 2014 with a seventh in the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile at Santa Anita in December and a nice two race win streak - the Grade 2 Twilight Derby at 11-1 odds October 31 and in the minor Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park September 13. Long on Value has been OK the last year and is expected to be in the mix Saturday with Joel Rosario aboard the 124 pound highweight from gate 2.
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King Kreesa - defending champion in this race has been up and down since that victory. He was third last time out in the minor Kingston Stakes here May 25 after a sixth in the minor Elusive Quality Stakes in April. He won three minor stakes races in 2014 to go along with his Poker Stakes score and has placed in 10 of his last 13 starts overall. He has 23 career starts with seven wins, five seconds and four third place finishes. King Kreesa looks for his first win since August with Jose Ortiz in the saddle from post 3.
Howe Great - had an impressive streak of four straight wins in 2013 and had some good results after that to go along with some poor efforts. He raced for the first time in 11 months December 13 and finished sixth in the minor El Prado Stakes after consecutive sevenths- in the 2014 Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes and the Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap in November, 2013. Last time out was his best result in a while - a second in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Stakes here May 2 which followed another poor result - an twelfth in the Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes back in January at Gulfstream Park. How Great hasn't been great the last 18 months but a runner-up finish last time out has to give this entry some hope. Manuel Franco has been table to ride Howe Great as he looks for his first win since April, 2013 from post 5.
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Vyjack - won his first four career starts including a pair of graded stakes scores at Aqueduct - the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes and the 2013 Grade 3 Gotham Stakes to start 2014 but has been up and down since. He won the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap September 27 and followed that with a fifth in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile in November. He has three starts this year and has failed to place in any one of them - a fifth in the minor Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct March 23, a fourth in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic April 18 and a seventh last time out in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special May 15. Vyjack has been competitive at times - six wins, a second and two third place finishes in 19 career starts but he hasn't been great lately. Junior Alvardo has the call from the outside post 10 in Vyjack's grass debut.
Heart to Heart - Canada's champion 3-year-old male for last season, multiple Grade 3 winning Brian Lynch trained colt enters off a second place finish in his only start of 2015 - the Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes at Monmouth Park. He ended 2014 with a fourth in the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile December 26 at Santa Anita and a nice three race win streak - the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs November 15, the Grade 3 Jefferson Cup Stakes on that same track in September and the minor Better Talk Now Stake in wire-to-wire fashion at Saratoga in August. Heart to Heart now has three wins, a second and a third place finish in his last six starts overall and enters in so-so form. Luis Saez has the mount from gate 4.
Il Campione - Chilean bred Chad Brown trained colt makes his North American debut with a fair amount of hype behind him - eight wins and a second place finish in 10 career starts. His only off-the-board finish was a DNF three starts back in December and outside of that he has been superb in every other start. Irad Ortiz has been tabbed to ride this highly regarded entry from gate 6 Saturday,
All Included - Todd Pletcher trained colt will make his stakes debut Saturday having recorded three wins in five career starts - those three wins coming in his last three starts overall. Last time out was an Allowance Optional Claiming score on this track May 10 after an Allowance win at Saratoga last July and a maiden score here last June. He looks for his fourth straight win in just his second starts in the last 12 months with John Velazquez guiding him from the rail.
Paris Vegas - has two starts in 2015 -both runner-up finishes. Last time out it came in the minor Henry S. Clark Stakes at Pimlico April 18 after an Allowance at Keeneland in October. His best career result came in the 2013 Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap when he finished second - he finished ninth in the 2014 edition of that race in October. Paris Vegas has 41 career starts with five wins, six seconds and five third place finishes but looks for his first stakes score Saturday when he leaves from gate 8 with Cornelio Velasquez aboard.
In Speight Ofitall - races in stakes company for the first time Saturday after 27 career starts yielded three wins, seven seconds and five third place finishes. He enters having won two of his last four starts overall - both Claiming races in last year. He enters off a fifth in a Claiming race on this track June 5 after one of his recent wins - here May 20. In Speight Ofitall takes the enormous step up in competition in so-so form with Eric Cancel guiding him.