07/04/2013 5:31PM

Belmont Park: King Kreesa all the way in Poker Handicap

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
King Kreesa, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., led from start to finish in the Grade 3 Poker Handicap at Belmont Park on Thursday, winning by 1 1/2 lengths.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Able to relax while racing uncontested on the lead under Irad Ortiz Jr., the New York-bred King Kreesa finally got his first graded stakes victory Thursday, going gate to wire to win the Grade 3, $150,000 Poker Handicap by 1 1/2 lengths at Belmont Park.

Positions in the Poker were virtually unchanged from the start, as Howe Great finished second by 1 1/2 lengths over Big Screen. Data Link, the 3-5 favorite who raced three wide and in fourth down the backstretch,  finished fourth. Lubash, Shkspeare Shaliyah, and Upgrade completed the order of finish.

The win was the fifth from 14 starts for King Kreesa, a King Kugat gelding owned by Susan and Gerald Kresa and trained by Jeremiah Englehart. Englehart watched from his home in the Finger Lakes region as he was with his wife, who is close to delivering the couple’s fourth child.

With King Kreesa, it’s a simple game plan: Send him to the front and try to improve his position. Last year, King Kreesa was a bit more difficult to slow down. On Thursday, he got away with a half-mile in 47.19 seconds and was able to turn back Howe Great, who made a run at him in the stretch.

“Irad’s got a really good handle on this horse,” Englehart said by phone. “The biggest thing is the horse is just maturing. Last year, to get him to go that slow, he would fight the bridle a little bit.”

Ortiz said he thought King Kreesa was going faster early than the teletimer indicated, “but I got to let him because that’s what he likes,” he said.

King Kreesa covered the mile in 1:33.65 and returned $11 as the second choice.

Data Link, a Grade 1 winner who most recently finished second to Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland, was dull, according to his rider, Javier Castellano.

“When I asked, he didn’t take off,” Castellano said. “He was on the wrong lead, and he didn’t give me that kick. I don’t know; maybe that track is too hard for him.”

Englehart said King Kreesa would be pointed to the Grade 2, $600,000 Fourstardave and a possible meeting with Wise Dan on Aug. 10 at Saratoga.

Samitar back in winner’s circle

One race prior to the Poker, Castellano guided the Grade 1 winner Samitar to a 1 1/4-length victory over the pacesetting Baffle Me in the $100,000 Fairy Garden Stakes.

It was Samitar’s first victory since she won the Grade 1 Garden City over this course last October. She was winless in four starts since, including a fourth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Gallorette at Pimlico last out.

Samitar, a 4-year-old daughter of Rock of Gibraltar owned by Martin Schwartz and trained by Chad Brown, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.25 and returned $3.80.

Neil Granowitz More than 1 year ago
Oh I forgot, was good to see the bridge jumpers JUMP. LMFAOROFL
Neil Granowitz More than 1 year ago
Had him in his last 2 wins. Nothing like collecting green from his sucess on the green. He should not take on Wise Dan. As for Wise Dan I thing LoPresti should run him in the 9 panel Woodward. Like last year he needs a win on dirt to solidify his HOY credentials.
Frank Kulcsar More than 1 year ago
guess the 101 beyers was right
Frank Kulcsar More than 1 year ago
kicked my but along with data link
therealdubwhite More than 1 year ago
How much did DataLink flatter Wise Dan in this ultra tough Grade 3 race called the Poker?
zkid9914 More than 1 year ago
He would have won by five if it wasn,t for the HARD track. So lets move on.
Jeff Brown More than 1 year ago
why does Durkin keep saying "So..." in his race calls. He sounds like he is on vacation and entirely bored.
Tom Mallios More than 1 year ago
yesreday i posted that a longshot alternative was lubash,i figured how badly he got buychered in his previous race,there is no way he could have a worse trip. i was attacked by lezcano fans,they quoted votes from 2 years ago how he was among the top 5 riders. please look at todays ride and tell me how great he is. but you won't do that. you will probably refer me to tadays 4th race ,the race where his filly jogged. the race where he got into a suicidal speed duel at 22/45/1.8 and came home under a monster lock. that was a tremendous ride. the horse had nothing to do with it. i am sure no other jock on the grounds could of won with her . to the connections of lubash.there is no sympathy to be given. you should of won back to back races.but you decided to keep lezcano on. today he basically outbroke the field on a turf course that was playing huge speed. what did jose do,strangled him. listen to durkins call. so what happens,the #7 slides into the pocket lezcano should of been in. he is just not good enough to run down a loose lead kressa. but lubash is. the proof,in 2 nightmare rides where he was strangled for 3/4 of each race and then sent 5 wide. he only lost by 3 lengths. keep riding him cristophe.sooner or later you will find a field of dreams for him.then lezcano can butcher him all he wants. he will just be that much better. so lezcano fans. what a great rider he is.
John Heiney More than 1 year ago
You are so right. The man absolutely sucks as a rider and this was horrendous. How some of these guys continue to get mounts in big races is beyond me.
Biggar W More than 1 year ago
And how he is winning at 21% on the grass is probably beyond both of you too.
Tom Mallios More than 1 year ago
because of mounts like the one in the 4th race einstein.even a guy like you and i could ride if we were not afraid to fall off. i posted earlier,your 21% jock did something i never saw in my years. this spring at aqueduct . he finished off the board 4 out of the last 5 races run during the day. you know what the amazing part was. each horse he rode was below even money. that is like a 7 foot starting almost all star center playing 28 minutes in the nba and not getting a rebound. off the board in all 4 races and not one pulled up. many were strangled ala lubash. but that is ok .he wins at 21%. you know who deserves the credit for that. lezcanos agent. this guy whoever his name is must be the greatest salesman on the face of the earth. how he continues to get top outfits to give him mounts. in all due respect to earvin johnson of ex laker fame. this guy,lezcanos agent is the true magic man.
Jason Beides More than 1 year ago
Take a look in the mirror because im sure you suck as a handicapper
Jason Beides More than 1 year ago
Well well,if we dont have another genius on our hands.Maybe if you had any clue and used your PEA brain head you would realize,that possibly he was instructed to take back and make one run but its obvious your just another disgruntled degenerate gambler!
Jason Beides More than 1 year ago
Not for nothing but wasnt big screen supposed to show a little more speed in a 47 half????
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
You know Tom I like to give people the benefit of the doubt....you know, that they can at least read. But apparently you can't, because if you could you would have read that I said two years ago he was one of the top 5, but he did give Lubash a lousy ride and so far at the current meet at Belmont has ridden poorly overall....but I reckon you saw what you wanted, I was defending what you said to the other guy. By the way.....I also played King Kreesa and Howe Great......the problem with Lubash is if Lezcano gives him his head, he's toast.....this is a mile, not 1 1/16th......There wasn't a horse in the race who could run with KK early and survive. When Lubash beat KK he did so at 1 1/16th after KK cut out 6f's in 1:08:4. Lubash wanted to go and Lezcano said no......where was Lubash when he won the FT marcy? was Lezcano an idiot there too? No my guess is you didn't have Lubash that day, but lost on him twice since......too bad, perhaps texas holdem is your game.......Lezcano hasn't been riding as well of late, but he's only trying to give the horse a chance...like he did in the Ft marcy when he set the stakes record...holding him back, making one run......like he did in last years Sands Point....he came from 7th there......forget texas holdem....maybe jacks is more your game....... If you bothered looking, or at least knew Lubash like I do since he hit the racetrack you'd know he's never beaten anyone worth a plugged nickel at a mile, except for Little Mike, before little Mike learned how to run and even that race was run in 1:36 and change at Aqu. Not belmont...Not to mention who takes even money on a horse that hasn't beaten anyone at a mile since Nov of 2010????? OH, that's right you do......no wonder you scream about jockey's.......you'd never blame your poor handicapping.....which is exactly what it is. In the future every time I have a price horse with Lezcano up I will think of you....and smile.
Tom Mallios More than 1 year ago
no what you fail to realize my arrogant chum.one who thinks he knows horses.it is called hands on a jock,to take a horse back and relax them.you do not have to strangle them to do so. why is it you always hear lezcano reigned back or pulled back.he no longer has the hands to relax them.you can recite every stupid thought in your head.look at the evidence.it is not only lubash my blind expert.it is every horse he rides. he needs to tug them back. as far as being a handicapper.even a blind man has the exacta ,the triple ,the super after the fact. so please before you start defending this guy.just keep looking at all the horses he chokes down. you want another example genius.normandy invasion. both times he rode him in big races the horse got off poorly. they put javie up and the horse is close to the pace ,no issues. but i am sure you already knew that.why? because you know and follow horses better than anyone else.
mike turfmonstr More than 1 year ago
Well you got one thing right, I do know more than most......my dad was a jock, I grew up at the track and instructing me on how a jock rides was nice, even if it was well...not needed. I said that Lezcano has been riding crappy since he came back from florida, so what's the problem? You're the guy who keeps betting him......the fact is Lubash couldn't beat KK at a mile unless someone was entered to run with him early.......quit yelping and learn something, it will be easier on the wallet.
Chuck Seeger More than 1 year ago
This is why this should still be the greatest gambling game, because all this jockey talk indicates is there is a MARKET here. People have different opinions, and if you have the stones to back your opinion, you get rewarded if your right. Problem is the industry refuses to seriously identify the cheats and remove them. I believe you need to be a jockey hater to play this game. 95% of the time all they can do is screw up a race, as opposed to making the difference in who wins. A famous handicapper was once quoted in Cigar magazine saying "No professional athletes have as poor a tactical understanding of their sport". If you think that you will survive in this game by depending on jockeys, you'll soon be looking for government handouts.
Robert More than 1 year ago
If you think Lubash would have the lead or be near KK early, you are the problem. You have no clue how to look at a race. I have a simple solution for you: If you think Lescano sucks...stop betting his horses. If you think he runs favorites into the ground...bet against them. Just a thought.
Mr. Ed More than 1 year ago
Your theory that if allowed to be closer, Lubash would have run them down simply doesn't work. Lubash was in position to be no worse than second and a shot at the win as they entered the lane. When they all got to sprinting for the wire he was right there along side three other horses. All of whom out ran him to the wire. So the "only lost by three" doesn't work either as it was a widening three. Stop betting a horse that has strict intructions to take back, then can't out sprint the others to the wire even when on even terms.
scott More than 1 year ago
Finish wiping up those tears yet Tom? You know the guy can't ride, you've seen it all Spring, and yet he's your "longshot alternative"? Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds. Just relax and bet against him any time his horses take money.
RockaFelter21 More than 1 year ago
since when did the fourstardave(grade 2 ) become a race worth 600k??? has to be a misprint?
BigAfan More than 1 year ago
Fourstardave is worth 500,000 .
Steve Hanna More than 1 year ago
Lone speed is always dangerous.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Kudos to that guy who said Kreesa would wire the field! Hope you crushed it dude.