06/14/2009 12:00AM

Kip Deville heads Poker as Dutrow eyes BC Mile


ELMONT, N.Y. - It's only June, and summer is still officially a week away, but trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. can't help himself from thinking about the fall and another shot at the Breeders' Cup Mile with Kip Deville.


Kip Deville won the BC Mile in 2007 and finished second last year. Kip Deville's road to the Nov. 7 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita begins Sunday, when he takes on five rivals in the Grade 3, $100,000 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park. Though Kip Deville is coming off a 10th-place finish in the Dubai Duty Free on March 28, his recent training has heightened his connections's enthusiasm to get him back to the races.

"By all the reports I've been getting, I can't wait to get there again," Dutrow said, referring to the Breeders' Cup. "It's not like I'm a little worried because we can see he's lost a step or anything. We're happy to have the horse we have right now. We're under the impression he's on top of his game."

On top of his game, Kip Deville should ace the Poker, a mile turf race that he won last year by 2 3/4 lengths over Tam Lin, who looms as the major threat again Sunday. Drawn in post 6, Kip Deville and jockey Cornelio Velasquez should be able to survey the situation out of the gate before determining whether to make the lead or stalk.

Tam Lin set a quick pace in the Ft. Marcy on May 9, before finishing second to Cosmonaut. Godolphin assistant trainer Rick Mettee is not looking for Tam Lin to be on the lead Sunday.

"Hopefully, he won't be as keen as he was in the Ft. Marcy," Mettee said. "We basically ran him right off the plane. But Kip Deville at his best, we're probably running for second, but he's certainly better prepared for this race than he was the last race, and a mile is probably better for him than a mile and a sixteenth."

Trainer Jimmy Toner believes a mile is good for Sailor's Cap, though that horse won the Colonial Turf Cup at 1 3/16 miles last year. He has not been out since a last-place finish in the Hollywood Derby on Nov. 30.

"I think it'll be a good distance because he's got a good turn of foot," Toner said.

Toner believes that if Kip Deville is ever going to be vulnerable, Sunday may be it. But, he added, "If he is what he is, let's face it, he's as good as there is going a mile."