The Poker Handicap May Come Down to Who Bluffs Best

Midway #1 sweeps past the field to capture the Gr-2 Arcadia at SA last February

The Poker Handicap – Grade III  
BEL  1m  Turf  Graded Stake
Purse $300.000  For Four Year Olds And Upward.

1 Reloaded For Battle, trained by Maxmillion Farm
Had been running well in overnights this year but was given no chance when upped in grade last time out in the Fort Mercy. Drawn wide he was dealt the outside gate speed push and as is normal weakened into a poor eighth. Ignoring that run his works are very good especially his last on this track and i expect a big turn round in his form from this much better draw.

2 What A Guarnatee, trained by John Henry
Formerly a big time three year old he was third in last seasons KYD but has struggled to reach those heights since. Sold a few times for good money noone has been able to get him back to that form but his latest and most recent owner got him into third place in the San Francisco Mile last time so may have found the secret formula. A strong worker there is no doubting his ability and from a good draw with a decent handicap mark on turf you would have to include him in your fancies.

3 Hulk Hogan, trained by Maxmillion Farm
He has promised a lot throughout his career but is a frustrating sort. Having said that he has won his last two starts and may just be finally finding some consistency. I was impressed with the way he stalked the lead and won the Crystal Water Stakes last time with ease but that was a pretty light field and he would have to step up again to beat these. A light handicap mark will certainly help though and he is right up there in an even field.

4 Comes The Dream, trained by M.b.o Racing Stables
A consistent sort his last time out win only came in overnight company but he ran a quick time and is working as well as any. If the track is running the same as last weekend he may well be on the best part of the course so watch out for a top three finish for him.

5 Triviality, trained by Chili King Stables
He has been consistent in lesser company and gets his chance to prove his metal today with his new owner. Bought for just $25.000 this would be a steal if he ran big today and whilst his recent form has been on dirt he has won on turf before and shouldnt be inconvenienced by it.

6 Eighth Street, trained by Mb Stables
One of the quickest workers in the field he ran third in the Carter handicap at grade one last time with more weight so must be teh handicap snip today. Another who has campaigned on dirt his turf works recently have looked like a born grass horse and it would be no surprise to see him romping home today for another win for the resurgent Mb Stables.

7 My Behrens, trained by Axeman
He has nine wins on turf and some good form over the years but this may prove a bit too tough for the six year old. The widish draw may see him sacrificed as the wide speed but if he can get a good spot expect an honest run.

8 Neto, trained by D J C Racing Stables
Another consistent sort in lesser company he comes from a stable that isnt afraid to take a chance. It would be a stretch to see him winning but as an on pace runner he will be suited by the draw and could show up for a long way.

9 Midway, trained by Whitewater Stables
Probably the best horse in the race it is not surprising that he gets a clear top weight. I would be happy that he could cope if he hadnt been drawn wide as well but this track was doing strange things last week so it may not be such a huge disadvantage. If he doesn’t expend too much energy early on his two grade one placings in his last two starts give him a big chance. Can he cope with the top weight, not may can but he has a fair chance.

Midway would be the obvious choice but when you look at his work and race times and compare them to Eighth Street, What A Guarantee and Reloaded For Battle it looks too hard for him to give them weight. I guess it may come down to the track and the trip especially when you look at last weekend and this is a tight race that is sure to produce a close finish so little things will make the difference.

Categories: Grade III, Races, STAKES ARTICLES

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