07/02/2013 2:06PM

Belmont: Hot pace in Poker may set up Data Link


Belmont Park dodged raindrops all last week, and Mother Nature’s continued cooperation would be appreciated through a Fourth of July card that includes three turf stakes and the first scheduled 2-year-old grass race of the season.

Heading the holiday lineup is the Grade 3, $150,000 Poker Stakes, a one-mile race on the Widener course that attracted seven turf-meant older males, headed by four-time graded stakes winner Data Link.

The stretch-running Data Link won the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile last year, and he was a clear second in that race to reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan in his last start.

“He ran fine,” said trainer Shug McGaughey. “He laid in behind [Wise Dan]. He settled in good and made a good run at him. He just couldn’t get by. He was second best.

The pace should be favorable for Data Link, as a potential early battle looms between Big Screen and King Kreesa, both exiting first-place finishes with triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures.

Big Screen made all the running in last month’s off-the-turf Jaipur Stakes and prevailed by a head over Souper Speedy, but was disqualified for herding out his stablemate.

“I was actually rooting for a dead heat,” said trainer Tom Albertrani. “I had one happy owner for a couple of minutes, and then vice versa.”

King Kreesa has won or placed in five of six starts over the local turf courses, including a close second in the Grade 1 Jamaica at 23-1 last fall and a front-running score over New York-breds in the Kingston last time out, beating, among others, Lubash, who was fresh off a win in the Fort Marcy.

“That was a tough field,” noted Jeremiah Englehart, who has developed King Kreesa from a $25,000 maiden into a multiple stakes winner. “Those horses are going to be knocking heads all year.”

Lubash has won three stakes for Christophe Clement, capped by a sizzling Fort Marcy in stakes-record time.

“Very honest, always tries,” said Clement.

Howe Great a wide fourth in the Dixie last out, makes his first start for trainer Rick Mettee, who won the 1996 Poker with Smooth Runner.

Shkspeare Shaliyah and Upgrade are also entered for turf.

◗ The Eventail and the Fairy Garden, a pair of $100,000, 1 1/1/6-mile overnight stakes respectively scheduled for the Widener and inner turf, lured graded stakes winners.

Discreet Marq, who wired the Grade 2 Sands Point in her first start for Clement, opposes eight rival 3-year-old New York-bred fillies in the Eventail.

“It was a bit ambitious, but she was the only speed of the race, and [owner-breeder Patricia Generazio] was really happy to take the shot,” said Clement of the decision to run Discreet Marq in the Sands Point off a four-month layoff. “It worked out.”

Unbelievable Dream, who trailed throughout the Sands Point, looks to rebound for Barclay Tagg. She had won three of four prior starts including the Grade 3 Appalachian.

Clement sends out the uncoupled duo of Future Generation and Team in the Fairy Garden, which drew eight turf-meant older fillies and mares.

The key question is how to evaluate Samitar, who most recently stumbled at the start of the Gallorette Handicap as the favorite, and finished a non-threatening fourth behind stablemate Pianist.

“We had two horses in the race and the plan was for Mike [Smith on Pianist] to go to the lead,” said Brown. “[Pianist] looked great, although it looked like Samitar wasn’t holding the track on the backside.”

Other contenders include Peace Preserver and Baffle Me, who each won turf stakes at Belmont’s 2012 fall meet.


Dave More than 1 year ago
I'm playing against Data Link, I think he'll be overbet. The 2nd place finish to Wise Dan may not have been as good as it looks on paper because that was WD's comeback race. Data Link has also only had 2 races since late December. Howe Great is coming into his own. Johnny V dangerous on Upgrade if he can get out in the stretch. I'm not sure I see the pace duel. Big Screen often rates off the pace, King Kreesa could definitely get loose. The filly race looks wide open. I think Samitar wants longer than 1 1/16 but there looks to be a decent amount of pace there.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Surprised that Optimizer isn't running. And he didn't run this weekend either. I was under the impression that Lukas entered him in every race that he was eligible for.
Tim More than 1 year ago
Yeah, that horse is like a weekly paycheck. He never wins, and almost always hits the board. It's a pretty bettable pattern.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Optimizer is pure hickory. Gotta love that guy.
Dave More than 1 year ago
Optimizer isn't a miler. He's nominated for the Man O War in a few weeks, I'd expect to see him in that one.
m4TTz HaHa More than 1 year ago
Hot pace? What hot pace? You mean King Kreesa galloping loose on the lead, eventually winning this race by ~2 lengths.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Data Link in a public workout. $3.60 $2.80 $2.40
Tom Mallios More than 1 year ago
Data Link is arguably the horse to beat . if you are looking for an alternative. take a look at the replay of Lubashs' last race. Clement is very gracious saying the horse always tries. The horse was butchered by lezcano. he strangled the horse around the track from the get go. lezcano is quickly becoming the next cornelio velasquez. they can no longer get horses to settle with their hands. they basically strangle them and take them out of their game. if the restraining was not bad enough.lezcano decided to go overland and keep him 5 wide.rode like he dropped his wallet on the previous turf race and went looking for it on this ride. The shocking thing to me is, how does clemente in his right mind give this guy the call back to ride.
richard cowles More than 1 year ago
Sorry ...had to show up for that slashing of the Lez..Outstanding rider who is also in high demand,You're lost.
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
Two years ago the folks on Dan Illman's blog that were from the west coast asked me to give them a list of the best turf riders in NY. Lexcano was one of the 5...I listed. Just so you know I'm no Lez basher. Unfortunately Richard is correct in this instance. Lezcano gave Lubash a lousy ride last time. In fact I was discussing his riding on turf recently, he's been making a lot of bonehead moves, ducking down inside when that isn't the place to be and fighting horses early, like he did with Lubash. I still think he's one of the top 5 turf riders in NY......but he hasn't been riding as well lately....that's just the facts.
Tom Mallios More than 1 year ago
mike, 2 years ago many people were able to do things they can't anymore.this post is today,not 2011. to all the lovers of lezcano.the race right sfter lubashs' at belmont that day.it was the last race of the day.he is the #2 horse.look at the butcher job. gets left.dead last,then looks like niatross with a 4 wide move down the back to get in contention then run 2nd.but i guess the lazcano groupies will tell you it was another difficult horse to ride.amazing how many of tthose he rides.but keep betting him guys,sooner or later he will win by a neck or so when he lays over the field
Tom Mallios More than 1 year ago
last thing on this.just to solidify the opinion that his incompetence is not only on he turf.this past spring at aqueduct,he did something i personally never saw before.maybe someone else did. in 4 of the last 5 races run that day. he finished off the board with 4 sub even money horses. OFF THE BOARD, not did not win.but i guess it was another one of those freakish days ,when his horses were hard to handle.
Tom Mallios More than 1 year ago
if you mean lezcano is great when he rides wise dan you are right. any moron can do that. look at his races.look at the entire body.he is a butcher. if you can't see that we disagree .my job is not to convince you. the guy strangles every horse he races.
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
Ah...Tom, I thought I was agreeing with you......
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
It is impossible to predict a hot suicidal pace. Anymore it is one horse and nobody else participates. And the jockeys on closers no longer know what to do. It is early speed and rarely anything else. NY racing is nothing but up front favorites. I would like to go back to the 70s and stay there.
mrm More than 1 year ago
What turf races have you watched?. Most are won by closers.
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
You are right. Dirt, forget it.
Micahdog More than 1 year ago
Very contentious race so gotta go with potential price opportunity. Michelle Nihei's Upgrade on the stretch out. Has as good a chance as any IF we get fast pace and Johnny V can save ground with this 6 year old veteran. Love to see 10-1 ML stay intact. Trifecta Key 1/ 4-5-6-7 but will need to light candle before the race :-). Great weekend to all.
ENAMMELD More than 1 year ago
After that longshot claim I'm tracking you :)
Micahdog More than 1 year ago
Enammeld, be very cautious here as the all but the # 2 have some kind of meaningful fractions and I don't play for lots of winners but rather PRICE plays, Upgrade is not the standout we had last week but if a price I'll take a small shot. Races I am really waiting for are The Man of War on the 17th if we get full field and Virginai Derby maybe, Sunday is Siengspel (spelling ?) at Woodbine 12 furlongs turf but who enters? So pleaplease....... caution. Those 'bombs' are pretty infrequent but worth the wait :-). Upgrade ran his last 3 furlongs in 34.8, gets 4 lbs off and JV back ib irons and at 10-1 or more worth a chance against Data Link and Lubash, Great weekend to you !
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
Micahdog, It was good of you to explain the caveat in the picking of Upgrade. Since the stretchout isn't a plus factor for him....not in this field. He's never won over 7f's against better horses, beating Mahubo at GP doesn't qualify......the horses he's run with at Woodbine would be hard pressed to win here. Regardless of their records at Woodbine. The one post on the Widener isn't a plus either, though it will allow him to save ground, he'll have to since he doesn't have enough early speed to get position. Given circumstances and odds this isn't a race I'd bet. The supposed speed duel between KK and BS may or may not materialize. The only other time BS ran on turf he never sniffed the lead and leaning on a sloppy track race is a bad idea. If I were a betting man and I got 8-1 or better on Howe Great in this situation that's where I'd go if I was sniffing "price".....not Upgrade, though Upgrade may be a nice ATB wager at 10-1.......AS far as the "weight" shift? So he's at equal weight with King Kreesa? not seeing that as a plus either......he's lost with less weight before when running against better albeit on a yielding course. Getting JV to ride is nice, new trainer, new jock......but the way Team Valor unceremoniously dumped Motion they deserve to lose.......The bottom line here is unless things change course wise or an unforeseen scratch.....odds that are out of whack it isn't a race that would be high on my list of "big bets".......Fishing with Upgrade is exactly that and explaining that was a good thing.....even if he were to do something he's never been able to do before it just isn't worth the investment..there are too many other opps out there.
Micahdog More than 1 year ago
Mike, I agree with almost everything you said, I do not see this as major betting opportunity (very infrequent in my play) but as you list the not so 'pluses' that's when you get price to take the chance. Despite all studies saying weight doesn't count I use it because trainers consider it in many cases (my choice). Reference Team Valor I believe this was really mutual split as TVI wanted exclusive trainer and Graham Motion (I'm a big fan) wanted diverse ownership opportunities. Based on my observations TVI now consolidating inventory with Rick Metee and will remain prominent. THANK YOU for your response. As I said very contentious race and not great betting opportunity but at a price I'll throw a few bucks on Upgrade. Enammeld was referencing London Lane at $ 102.60 that I suggested (and bet) last week at Colonial but let's be sensible.......those don't happen very often at all. IN that case a hidden fraction improving horse with no comparable class. But we sure got a nice price. One needs a good price when win % so low :-).
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
I know a thing or two about price, since I never play under 5-1. There are times when a horse has pluses and price, not vica versa......that's when you're fishing. AS to London lane.....I didn't play him but caught the exacta as I keyed on Hyper to run 1-2. boxing him in exacta's with London Lane and Swift Warrior. That race wasn't a stretch, they weren't, except for Swift Warrior, solid grade 3 types. That race was as good as an OC Claimer in NY. London lane showed alot of promise early on in his career, his last pointed to a good run at Colonial, he had the capability. I didn't see it as a stretch, the public did and that's where price comes from....the public's perception. I didn't think he could beat Hyper, but I never key a horse and bot box my exacta's...it is horse racing after all and with the way Colonial had been playing you had to have horses coming from out of it as Hyper and London lane would. My inclusion of Swift Warrior was a class move alone.....he had speed and the track would play against him, but he had the class.....all things considered he ran a very nice race. As far as Team Valor goes? Irwin's not my cup of tea, never has been.....I was surprised Motion and he seemed to get along, Motion's a gentleman, Irwin isn't......Their new trainer may do well, may not, he certainly isn't going to improve any horse Motion trained.
Micahdog More than 1 year ago
Saturday 7-6-13 Monmouth 11th Race United Nations. Early ML on # 8 Hangover's Kid is only 6-1 but if get price of 11-1 or more this one no back class but same picture as London Lane with 22.8 inside continuing on to 23.5 outside and 4 lbs off last race. IF pace fast this one could be the bomb. Teaks North 4 for 4 at Monmouth and won this last year will take money (rightfully so) as will Little MIke. NO CLASS on Hangover's Kid but at price I'll throw the dice. Light the candle !
Jeanne More than 1 year ago
Did you read Micahdog's call of London Lane in the Colonial Turf race? :) To bad I didn't bet the horse!! Good luck to all! Have a safe 4th of July!!!!
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
NY racing. Make the lead and watch the merry go round. I also love the fact that money gets dumped into pools after the race has started.
ENAMMELD More than 1 year ago
That's been happening since I got into it in 65, late money calculated. It's nothing new
Bob More than 1 year ago
It isn't betting after the race. It's very late money. How else can it be calculated. Stop the betting with 3 minutes to post?