Now, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. will try the East to open Kip Deville’s summer season, as the 5-year-old Kipling horse is entered for Sunday’s 24th running of the Grade 3, $100,000-added Poker for three-year-olds and up at a mile on the turf. The race is carded as the fourth on Sunday (2:35 p.m.).
The difference is that, following that race in ’07, Kip Deville was sent to Hollywood Park, brought back to Monmouth, then to Woodbine before returning to New Jersey for his Breeders’ Cup victory.
“Last year, I thought it was interesting what we did out in California,” Dutrow said. “We wanted to see how our horses liked Polytrack, and we knew Kip Deville liked Santa Anita’s turf course because he won the Kilroe out there. Plus, they paid our way.
“We’re staying East for now, but realistically, there are three big races for him this year: the Maker’s Mark, which he already won, the race in Canada (Woodbine Mile; September 7) and the Breeders’ Cup Mile (Santa Anita, October 25). At this stage, he pretty much takes care of himself. He lets us know what’s up, and we figured that, rather than ship to California or whatever, he could stay right here and run in the Poker and give him something to do.”
Kip Deville will carry top weight of 125 pounds, spotting his rivals from nine to 11 pounds. He will break on the far outside in post 5 under jockey Cornelio Velasquez.
Trainer Dan Peitz brings back an old familiar face with Robert and Lawana Low’s Steppenwolfer. As a three-year-old in 2006, the son of Aptitude was third in the Kentucky Derby to Barbaro and fourth in the Belmont Stakes behind Jazil.
Last year, he made only four starts, won none of them and completely baffled Peitz.
“His two races in Arkansas last year, well, he didn’t run at all,” Peitz said. “So, we brought him back here and tried him on the grass, which was something I had been wanting to do. He ran a big race, and probably should have won, except he got boxed in, then shuffled back and then made a big run.
“That race was at a mile, and we stretched him out in the Manhattan and he didn’t do any good. After that, I noticed that he was getting hot, so he was fretting about something. We looked him up and down and took a bunch of pictures (x-rays) but we couldn’t find anything. Yet, I knew something was wrong because he kept getting hot. We couldn’t train, we couldn’t race, so we finally sent him to Dr.(Larry) Bramlage. Sure enough, his right knee started lighting up and they discovered a crack. It didn’t require surgery, just time, but a least we knew what was causing him trouble.”
Peitz had hoped for a “three other than” allowance to go, but felt he couldn’t take the chance of missing an opportunity.
“We had to get started on him if we wanted a chance to run back in the Fourstardave (Grade 2, $150,000, 3 and up, mile and a sixteenth, turf, Saratoga Race Course, Sunday, August 3),” Peitz said. “This is a tough race, but we really didn’t have much choice.”
Operation Red Dawn, second in Aqueduct’s Grade 3 Fort Marcy Handicap in April; Sensational Humor, who turns back from a mile and a quarter optional claimer, where he ran a close second, and Tam Lin (GB), a nose victor at this distance on June 14, are also entered.
The field for Sunday’s 24th running of the Grade 3 Poker:
PP. HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT.
1. Sensational Humor Tom Bush Rajiv Maragh 114
2. Steppenwolfer Dan Peitz Channing Hill 114
3. Tam Lin (GB) Saeed bin Suroor John Velazquez 116
4. Operation Red Dawn Christophe Clement Alan Garcia 115
5. Kip Deville Richard Dutrow Jr. Cornelio Velasquez 125