The expected favorite, Forbidden Apple, will forego Friday's Poker Handicap (gr. IIIT) because of the heat, so preference will now shift to Shibboleth, a two-length winner of the May 27 Jaipur Handicap (gr. IIIT) in his last race.
According to trainer Robert Frankel, Shibboleth exited his awesome showing in the Jaipur no worse for the wear. In the five weeks between the Jaipur and Poker, Shibboleth has worked four times, most recently breezing four furlongs over the main track in :48 4/5 on July 1st.
Friday, Shibboleth must stretch his speed to a mile, a distance he went winless in two attempts during his European campaign in Great Britain. Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, a three-time winner of the Poker, rides the 122-pound highweight from post 3.
Amherst Stable's Volponi, a graded stakes winner on both dirt and turf, makes his first start on the grass since finishing fourth to Sharp Performance in last July's Grade 3 Lexington. A 4-year-old colt by Cryptoclearance, Volponi won his seasonal debut in a classified allowance here on May 8th, but failed in a Belmont allowance 22 days later at 1-2. According to Hall of Fame trainer Phil Johnson, Volponi grabbed his quarter leaving the gate in his last start, thus the reason for the poor performance.
The field for the $100,000 Poker (gr. IIIT), for 3-year-olds and up from the rail out:
Horse, jockey, weight
1--Boastful, Jose Santos, 115
2--Navesink, Edgar Prado, 117
3--Shibboleth, Jerry Bailey, 122
4--Volponi, Shawn Bridgmohan, 115
5--Keats and Yeats, Richard Migliore, 113
6--Saint Verre, Jean-Luc Samyn, 112
7--Polish Miner, Javier Castellano, 111