Last year, Right One took the Grade 3 Jaipur and Island Sun overnight stakes and was third in the Poker during the spring/summer meet. After finishing third in his 2012 debut, the Grade 2 Commonwealth on Keeneland’s artificial surface in April, the Ghislaine Head color-bearer made a five-wide rally to finish second by a diminishing three-quarters of a length in the seven-furlong Jaipur on June 8.
Lorieul admitted that it will be important for jockey Julien Leparoux to time his move well in the Poker aboard Right One.
“The key with him is to track another horse for as long as possible and to make a move at the very last minute,” said Lorieul. “He has a good turn of foot, but not a great turn of foot. Julien knows him by now, and he’ll have to work it out.”
Right One will leave from post position 9 as the 3-1 morning-line second choice.
Compliance Officer, a four-time stakes winner against New York-breds, will make his first start against open company in a black-type stakes since finishing last of 11 in the 2011 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile. Following the Breeders’ Cup, the 2011 New York-bred turf male champion rebounded to take the Claiming Crown Emerald in December, then won his 2012 debut, Belmont’s Kingston for state-breds, by three-quarters of a length on May 27.
Trainer Bruce Brown, who claimed Compliance Officer for $25,000 last year for owner La Marca Stable, says he will use the Poker to gauge whether Compliance Officer is capable of running in bigger graded stakes in the future.
“This is kind of a lull in the New York-bred races, so this seemed like a good opportunity to see how he stacks up in open company, especially coming into Saratoga,” said Brown, noting the next New York-bred stake is the August 18 West Point presented by Trustco Bank at Saratoga Race Course. “He doesn’t know he’s a New York-bred. He had a rough go of it in the Breeders’ Cup, then he ran against open horses in the Claiming Crown.”
Javier Castellano will ride Compliance Officer, the 5-2 favorite on the morning line, from the rail.
Brown will also send out Our Sugar Bear Stable’s long shot Gourmet Dinner, ninth in the Colonial Turf Cup on June 16, in the Poker.
“We were very surprised with how he ran at Colonial,” said Brown. “He was very flat. He just wasn’t himself; maybe it was from racing at night or from shipping. I wouldn’t have thought about racing him back so quickly if the race had taken anything out of him.”
Gourmet Dinner, 30-1, will have the services of Mike Luzzi from post 2.
Fox Ridge Farm’s Yield Bogey seeks a breakthrough victory in the Poker, having placed in four graded stakes on turf, including a second and a third, respectively, in the 2009 and 2010 editions of the race. In his most recent start he was third in the Jaiupur, beaten 3 ¼ lengths. Overall, the gelding is 4-4-6 in 28 career starts.
“He’s an 8-year-old, so I don’t know if he can step up,” said trainer Pat Kelly. “He almost won this race last year. We didn’t get a prep race before [the 2012 Jaipur]. We had him in one, and then it rained, so we didn’t get a prep to help us. He’s completely fit now. He tries hard, and he’s a neat horse. One of these days will be his day. I hope it will be Wednesday.”
Hall of Famer Edgar Prado will ride Yield Bogey, 10-1, from post 5.
From post 3 out, the Poker field also includes Queen’splatekitten, fourth in the Grade 3 Eclipse on Woodbine’s artificial surface on May 26; Monument Hill, fourth in Monmouth Park’s Elkwood on May 19; Clear Attempt, runner-up by a nose in a Belmont optional claimer on May 18; Boots Ahead, fifth in the Jaipur; El Commodore, who took a Delaware Park optional claimer on May 26; and Voodoo Storm, second in a May 13 optional claimer at Belmont. Uncle T Seven and Isn’t He Perfect will run if the race is transferred to the main track.