Updated on 09/16/2011 7:43AM

Shibboleth has Poker to lose

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Shibboleth (inside) takes the seven-furlong Jaipur Handicap with a stakes-record effort. He is winless, however, at the Poker's mile distance.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Forbidden Apple can't stand the heat, so trainer Christophe Clement kept him out of the Poker.

"I don't think he runs so well in the heat," said Clement, explaining why he didn't enter Forbidden Apple in Friday's $100,000 Poker Handicap. "I ran him in the Bowling Green last year, and it was very warm, and he ran the worst race of his career."

Without Forbidden Apple, Shibboleth figures to be a deserving odds-on favorite in the Grade 3 Poker, run at one mile on the Widener Turf course. First post is 1 p.m., a switch from the customary 3 p.m. Friday post.

Shibboleth is coming off a stakes-record performance winning the Grade 3 Jaipur Handicap on the front end here on May 27. His final time of 1:20.08 for seven furlongs was just .20 seconds off the course record.

"The other day is the first day he broke," trainer Bobby Frankel said. "He ran very good, but it wasn't a real strong [field]."

Shibboleth, a 5-year-old son of Danzig, is 5 for 5 at seven furlongs, but 0 for 3 at a mile. In his lone try at a mile in this country, Shibboleth broke slowly and rallied to be second in an allowance race at Santa Anita.

"I think the one turn is going to be better for him than two turns," Frankel said. "But the race at Santa Anita was good around two turns. He was coming off a layoff and they ran very fast."

As the 122-pound highweight under Jerry Bailey from post 3, Shibboleth will be conceding five to 11 pounds to six rivals who include Navesink (117), Volponi (115), Boastful (115), Keats and Yeats (113), Saint Verre (112), and Polish Miner (111).

Last year, Navesink won the Jamaica Handicap and the Kent Breeders' Cup at Delaware. Even his losses were good efforts, as he was beaten just 1 3/4 lengths in the Grade 1 Secretariat and 4 1/4 lengths in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

In his first start this year, however, Navesink ran a dull fifth in a money allowance at Delaware Park.

"They made me take his shoes off behind," said trainer Alan Goldberg, adding that Delaware Park officials misinterpreted their own rules. "I probably shouldn't have run him. I don't know if that was the reason or if he's just not the same horse."

Volponi returns to the turf for the first time in a year. As a maiden, he won the Pilgrim Stakes on turf. Trainer Phil Johnson will take the blinkers off the colt.

"I think change is good," Johnson said. "He's never been an aggressive horse except at The Meadowlands, and he was still fifth down the backside. I think he's worth trying without blinkers; he won without them on the turf."

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