07/08/2004 12:00AM

A solid duo headlines Poker


ELMONT, N.Y. - Millennium Dragon and Burning Roma receive high marks for their consistency in stakes, and that could give them the edge in Saturday's $100,000-added Poker Handicap at Belmont Park.

, who carries 120 pounds as the co-highweight with Burning Roma in the Grade 3 Poker, is the likely favorite in the mile turf race, which drew nine runners.

, a winner of $1.4 million, is a graded winner on the dirt and turf. When they last met in the Grade 2 Maker's Mark at Keeneland in April, Burning Roma finished second and Millennium Dragon was sixth.

Since the Maker's Mark, Burning Roma, trained by Heather Giglio, won the Grade 3 Red Bank at Monmouth on May 29. Millennium Dragon, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, finished second in the Grade 2 Dixie at Pimlico and Grade 1 Manhattan at Belmont.

Millennium Dragon is probably better suited to the Poker distance than the 1 1/4 miles he navigated in the Manhattan. In January at Gulfstream, he won the Grade 3 Appleton at a mile and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 108.

"He's a different horse this year in that he can settle, and that is a great asset going short," McLaughlin said.

Richard Migliore, Millennium Dragon's regular rider, will be at Colonial Downs on Saturday to ride Artie Schiller in the Virginia Derby. Mike Luzzi will ride Millennium Dragon, who drew post 6.

Burning Roma will make his 34th career start in the Poker and is seeking his 14th win. The 6-year-old is headed to the breeding shed next year, so Giglio wants to make the most of each of his remaining races.

"I am excited - he's ready to run," Giglio said.

Jesus Castanon will ride Burning Roma from post 3.

The biggest threat to the top two could be Silver Tree. , the winner of last year's Virginia Derby, has won a pair of mile races this year, including an optional claimer in his last start. In that race, Silver Tree beat Nothing to Lose, who finished third in last Saturday's Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth, beaten a length.

McLaughlin also entered Megoman, who is not coupled in the wagering with Millennium Dragon. On June 16 at Belmont, Megoman finished fourth in an optional claimer behind Silver Tree.

Multiple Choice wrote a new chapter in his career in his grass debut when he snapped a long losing streak in the Grade 3 Jaipur here in May. Chilly Rooster posted an upset in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy in April at Aqueduct.