Updated on 09/16/2011 7:44AM

Volponi relishes his return to turf


ELMONT, N.Y. - Volponi, who hadn't raced on the turf in a year, posted an upset in Friday's Grade 3, $111,200 at Belmont Park with a 2 1/4-length victory.

Saint Verre finished second and Navesink was a neck back in third in the mile turf race. Shibboleth, the odds-on favorite and 122-pound highweight, finished fifth in the seven-horse field after tiring in the final furlong.

Volponi, who was ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, sat in a stalking position behind Saint Verre and Shibboleth, the early leaders through quick fractions of 22.83 seconds, 45.23, and 1:08.34. Volponi advanced on the leaders from the outside approaching the stretch and drew clear in the final furlong.

Bridgmohan said he had clear sailing throughout. "I really had a good trip," Bridgmohan said. "He broke alertly, and I had room. When I pushed the button, he just took off."

Jerry Bailey, aboard Shibboleth, said he "had nothing" when he asked his mount for more run.

Volponi ($20.60) covered the distance in 1:32.24 over the Widener turf course, which was labeled firm. Volponi, who had raced with blinkers in his eight last starts, raced without them in the Poker. Trained by Phil Johnson, Volponi is owned by Amherst Stable and Spruce Pond Stable.

The Poker was the second graded win on the turf for Volponi, a 4-year-old son of Cryptoclearance who also won the Grade 3 Pilgrim as a 2-year-old for his first career victory.

Last year, Volponi won the Grade 2 Pegasus on the dirt at The Meadowlands.

For now, Johnson said he would like to keep Volponi on the grass. One possibility is the $150,000 Bernard Baruch, a 1 1/8-mile race on July 26 at Saratoga.