07/02/2006 12:00AM

Rebel Rebel's trip decisive in Poker


Three horses were locked and loaded a quarter mile from the finish of the . Two got stopped, while Rebel Rebel got the money, turning a clean outside trip into a 2 1/4-length win in the $110,900 Poker.

Woodlander got the worst of things in the Poker, a one-mile grass race, running up on heels while trapped on the inside from the three-eighths pole to midstretch, and he wound up fifth. Things went little better for Remarkable News, who had traffic trouble from the quarter pole to mid-stretch. But when jockey Javier Castellano finally found room to swing outside, Rebel Rebel and jockey Edgar Prado already were gone, surging to the front with a decisive move coming off the turn.

Remarkable News, losing for the first time in four races, ran well in defeat, easily getting second over Vicarage. Rebel Rebel ran the mile on firm turf in 1:33.34 while carrying 116 pounds, and paid $7 to win as the second choice. Rebel Rebel is trained by Richard Dutrow Jr.

Rebel Rebel, a 4-year-old Irish import, is 0 for 5 in U.S. races not run over the Belmont turf course, but is now 2 for 2 in races run over it. On Sunday, he raced near the back of a compact field as T.D. Vance set fractions of 23.11 seconds and 46.57, but Prado kept him close enough during the run around the turn to hem in Remarkable News.

Astoria: Desire to Excel in upset

It was the rare bettor playing Desire to Excel to win the Astoria Stakes, but the longest price in the field made short work of six rivals, putting away She's Roughin It at the top of the stretch and going on to win the $109,500 Astoria by five lengths.

Octave, the 4-5 Todd Pletcher-trained favorite, ground her way to a second-place finish after stumbling at the start, with She's Roughin It holding third, followed by One Tough Belle, Run Miss Eltishrun, Shelby's Memory, and Cool the Economy.

Desire to Excel paid $50.50 to win, and was timed in 1:04.33 for 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track.

None of these 2-year-old fillies had done more than win a maiden race, and Desire to Excel had scored at first asking, albeit by only a neck in an Aqueduct maiden race. Her trainer, the New Jersey-based Kelly Breen, has become a force with young horses, and Desire to Excel ran much better in the Astoria, getting away alertly under Mike Smith and easily keeping tabs on She's Roughin It before leaving her when asked.