Today’s featured ninth race at Belmont Park on Independence Day is the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at one mile on the Widener turf course has drawn a full, competitive full field and a terrific betting race.

The early line favorite is one of the best claims of 2011, the 6-year-old Compliance Officer (5-2), who has now won half of his 14 lifetime starts on the Elmont green, has drawn pole position and Javier Castellano, aboard for his most recent win in the state-bred Kingston Stakes.

And he did so over this course at the distance, overcoming a slow pace.

But he’s not as fast on performance figures as Right One (3-1), whose best figures have come at this trip and another top effort on this course, albeit at 7 furlongs. And right now, Christophe Clement is pushing all the right buttons.

Drawn outside with more tactical speed than the favorite, he has a speedy rival breaking immediately to his inside and Julien Leparoux, who has taken the re-ride, should sit just off his flank, possibly cover up, and get first run on Compliance Officer when ready. Or at least that’s how you draw it up in a perfect world.

Taking Right One to win at 2-1 or greater, an exacta box with the favorite, and adding Queen’splatekitten (6-1), Monument Hill (12-1) and Voodoo Storm (8-1) to the super-exotic mix.


Running Totals: (1108) 341-214-167 Total Dollar Return: $2,349.70 [win selections only]