How to bet the 2021 Poker Stakes

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

June 19th, 2021

Chad Brown’s multiple Grade 1 winner #1 Raging Bull will lead a high-quality field of nine postward in Sunday’s $250,000 Poker S. (G3) at Belmont Park. The one-mile turf test boasts a trio of Brown trainees, and I am most interested in his least fancied runner to post an upset.

#6 Front Run the Fed made his 2021 debut on the course, going seven-eighths in the Elusive Quality S. and just missed by a head to next-out Jaipur S. (G1) victor Casa Creed. The bay son of Fed Biz will be fitter for his second run of the season, and the stretch-out to eight panels will actually benefit the five-year-old, in my opinion.

The Kentucky-bred was a fine runner-up in the deep 2019 English Channel S. on the course the last time he raced at one mile. His affinity for the local turf is evident by his 4-2-2-0 mark at Belmont Park.

A one-turn mile seems ideal for the lightly raced contender, who could be sitting as close as third to the top of the lane. Jose Lezcano dons a 4-3-1-0 mark when riding Front Run the Red, too.

The two obvious contenders in the cast include the aforementioned Raging Bull, who strode home a facile winner of the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) in his 2021 debut, and Grade 2 hero #4 Get Smokin, who is controlling speed coming off a sharp Seek Again S. triumph on the surface. Both of the logical players will be in my exotics wagers.

I will also give some love to 2020 Jaipur S. (G1) vixen #2 Oleksandra. The Animal Kingdom mare appears to have lost a step in her recent performances, but the classy seven-year-old is three-for-three locally, and she might appreciate the added distance on Sunday, as well. Joel Rosario gets the call to pilot the Team Valor color bearer.

Poker Stakes Wagers

  • $10 win and place #6 Front Run the Red ($20)
  • $5 exacta key box 6 with 1,4 ($20)
  • $.50-cent superfecta 6 with 1,2,4 with 1,2,4 with all ($18)