07/12/2008 11:00PM

Kip Deville full of run for Poker


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. planned to give Kip Deville the summer off following his dominant win in the Maker's Mark Stakes at Keeneland in April.

Kip Deville had other ideas.

As a result, Kip Deville, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Mile, is back in action Sunday at Belmont Park in the Grade 3, $100,000 Poker Handicap at one mile on the turf.

"He wants more," Dutrow said. "He's a racehorse. I've been around him so long, I can tell. It's easy to figure him out."

Initially, Dutrow laid out a schedule that kept Kip Deville on the bench until the Woodbine Mile on Sept. 7. That race that would serve as the prep for a Breeders' Cup defense at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

That scenario worked well last year. Kip Deville finished second at Woodbine before heading to Monmouth Park to win the Breeders' Cup Mile on a rain-soaked course.

"This is still a light schedule," Dutrow said. "I didn't want to ship him around because I want to have him ready for the two big races at the end of the year. I wanted to take it as easy I can with him during the summer, which we have been doing. He's been breezing. We haven't been asking him for much. He's so eager to do things that I don't see this as being a bad move."

Following last year's Breeders' Cup, Dutrow gave Kip Deville a two-month rest before returning to win the Maker's Mark for a second straight year.

"That might be a key to how he's doing now," Dutrow said. "I had to keep up with things with Kip. He had been running for about two years solid. Now that he got a break, it looks like it couldn't have worked out any better for him."

With the horse feeling so good and training so well, the Poker looked like an ideal spot for the gray from Oklahoma to make his Belmont debut.

"I've been waiting to try him at Belmont," Dutrow said. "I figure he's going to like that grass course because the turns are so wide, but then he likes a lot of different courses."

A three-time Grade 1 winner, Kip Deville figures to be a very short price against Sensational Humor, Steppenwolfer, Tam Lin, and Operation Red Dawn. He will carry

125 pounds, spotting 9 to 11 pounds to his rivals.