Poker Star's time to shine
POKER STAR has class and the handicaps in his favour, even with topweight 57.0 kilos, and should land this afternoon's 1200-metre Thoroughbred Racing Hall-of-Fame Stakes - his fourth race since returning from an eight-month lay-up a little more than five weeks ago.
The Wayne DaCosta-trained 2016 sprint champion has been gradually
getting his bearings after being beaten in back-to-back races won by speed demon TALENTED TONY K, the last over 1000 metres straight two Wednesdays ago, finishing a length second behind the joint track record holder.
POKER STAR's six rivals this afternoon include Dwight Chen's CHACE THE GREAT, who had finished ahead of him in his first two starts since returning to competition.
Anthony Nunes' ROYAL ASSAULT is the other genuine sprinter in the line-up, but has not beaten open allowance in a while, winning his last two races in the lower class, and appears too close in the weight to POKER STAR, 126lb, and CHACE THE GREAT at 120.
Class and weight are what POKER STAR should use to record his first win in a little over a year at the expense of CHACE THE GREAT, who he allowed 12lb in the May 27 Lotto Sprint. He now enjoys a six-pound weight swing on third-place CHACE THE GREAT out of that race won by TALENTED TONY K.
In the Lotto Sprint, POKER STAR chased TALENTED TONY K, almost to the last furlong, before being crowded a half-furlong out by CAMPESINO, CHACE THE GREAT and BRAWN.
In his comeback race on May 10, had it not been for him being rammed by CRUCIAL APPEAL at the gate, POKER STAR would have surely not been a
quarter-length behind second-place CHACE THE GREAT, who he had allowed 14lb in the race won by ANOTHER BULLET.
In his encouraging second-place run behind speedy TALENTED TONY K at 1000 metres straight two Wednesdays ago, POKER STAR stayed on best of the rest in a field that included CRUCIAL APPEAL and UPPA TUNE, proving that he has the beating of open allowance horses, but the trip was a tad too sharp.
That was POKER STAR's first-ever attempt at 1000 metres straight, which came at a bad time against razor-sharp TALENTED TONY K. He will be far better suited to 1200 metres and has no TALENTED TONY K to chase in sub-23 opening fractions.
The sprinters, CHACE THE GREAT and ROYAL ASSAULT, will be run off their legs chasing him whereas the expected closers, LOTTERY TICKET, PINELOPE and PROLIFIC PRINCESS, will come up short on class.