06/06/2011 3:08PM

Belmont Park: Poker a tough spot for Right One

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Barbara D. Livingston
Courageous Cat will be making his first start since the Shadwell Turf Mile last October at Keeneland in Friday's Poker Stakes at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Christophe Clement probably picked out Friday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Poker Stakes at Belmont Poker as a way to ease his French-bred gelding Right One into North American graded stakes competition. A good idea in theory, perhaps, but it doesn’t look like it turned out that way.

Though only six horses were entered for the one-mile Poker, the field includes the multiple Grade 1 winner Court Vision and the multiple graded stakes winner Courageous Cat. Back in 2009, Courageous Cat finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, with Court Vision a length behind in fourth.

“Salty’s an understatement,” Clement said as he perused the past performances. “I’d feel better if it was a softer race.”

Right One has been impressive, winning both of his starts in this country after going 2 for 16 in France, but he is reliant on pace that he doesn’t figure to get here.

The Poker is one of two stakes on Friday’s 10-race program. The other is the Grade 2, $150,000 Brooklyn Handicap, run at 1 1/2 miles featuring 2010 Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer. The Brooklyn is the first leg of the Brooklyn-Belmont Stakes daily double wager.

Courageous Cat, who won the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes at 3 and the Grade 3 Canadian Turf at 4, hasn’t run since finishing third in the Shadwell Turf Mile last October at Keeneland. He entrapped is epiglottis in that race and underwent a minor throat procedure, according to trainer Bill Mott. He has been training steadily at Belmont and will break from the rail under Jose Lezcano.

Court Vision has not won since taking the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile last September. He finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, beaten 2 3/4 lengths by Goldikova.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said Monday that weather could play a role in whether Court Vision runs. Dutrow said Court Vision doesn’t like hot weather, and temperatures are expected to be in the mid 90s on Thursday before possibly breaking Friday.

“If it’s cool, he ought to show up the right way,” Dutrow said. “If it’s a hot day, we probably won’t even run him.”

Beaux Choix, Riviera Cocktail, and Yield Bogey are all capable of winning this on their best day.

Brooklyn: Drosselmeyer faces four

One year after winning the Belmont Stakes, Drosselmeyer gets to run 1 1/2 miles again over Belmont’s main track in the Brooklyn, which drew a field of five including 2009 Brooklyn winner Eldaafer.

Drosselmeyer, trained by Mott, won the One Count Stakes here May 15 at 1 1/4 miles by a neck over stablemate Birdrun, who is back in this spot.

Eldaafer, last year’s Breeders’ Cup marathon winner, is coming off a turf victory in a starter allowance at Atlantic City in his last start.

Afleet Again, the 2010 Withers winner, and Alma d’Oro, winner of the John Campbell Stakes in February, complete the field.