Compliance Officer tries open company in the Poker Handicap.

Compliance Officer tries open company in the Poker Handicap.

Coglianese Photos

Poker: Compliance Officer Puts Cards On Table

Dominant New York-bred facing contentious open company for trainer Bruce Brown.

Compliance Officer, a four-time stakes winner against New York-breds, gets an important Independence Day test against open company in the $150,000 Poker Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Widener turf course at Belmont Park.

The one-mile event July 4, attracted a field of 10 with Compliance Officer established as the 5-2 favorite. LaMarca Stable's 6-year-old Officer gelding has not faced open company since finishing last of 11 in the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) last November. That's the only blemish on the dark bay's record in his past eight starts. He won his 2012 debut, Belmont’s Kingston for state-breds, by three-quarters of a length on May 27.

“This is kind of a lull in the New York-bred races, so this seemed like a good opportunity to see how he stacks up in open company, especially coming into Saratoga,” said trainer Bruce Brown. “He doesn’t know he’s a New York-bred. He had a rough go of it in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Javier Castellano will ride Compliance Officer from the rail. Compliance Officer has won 11 of 25 races in his career while banking $539,566.

The Poker is the ninth race on the Belmont holiday program with a 5:06 p.m. EDT probable post.

Right One, never out of the money in four starts on the Widener course, presents the biggest challenge to Compliance Officer at 3-1 on the morning line.

Ghislaine Head's 6-year-old French homebred trained by Christophe Clement comes into the race off a strong closing second to Upgrade in the seven-furlong Jaipur (gr. IIIT) at Belmont June 8, a race he won in 2011. Right One ran third behind Courageous Cat  and Yield Bogey in last year's Poker.

“He had a good work on Wednesday (five furlongs on turf in 1:03.04), and the horse is in good form, so hopefully we can turn the tables from the Jaipur,” said Christophe Lorieul, assistant to Clement. “I think he’s good around one turn, that’s for sure. He’s done well at Belmont around one turn, and he ran really well in the Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) last year. That’s his game.”

Right One missed by a neck in the Woodbine Mile, finishing in a photo behind Turallure and Courageous Cat. Julien Leparoux will be charged with timing the son of Anabaa's closing kick correctly.

“The key with him is to track another horse for as long as possible and to make a move at the very last minute,” said Lorieul. “He has a good turn of foot, but not a great turn of foot. Julien knows him by now, and he’ll have to work it out.”

Fox Ridge Farm’s Yield Bogey was third in the Jaipur, setting a quick pace before giving way grudgingly. The veteran son of Langfuhr  has placed in four graded stakes on turf, including a second and a third, respectively, in the 2009 and 2010 editions of the Poker. Overall, the gelding is 4-4-6 in 28 career starts.

“He’s an 8-year-old, so I don’t know if he can step up,” said trainer Pat Kelly. “He almost won this race last year. We didn’t get a prep race before. We had him in one, and then it rained, so we didn’t get a prep to help us. He’s completely fit now. He tries hard, and he’s a neat horse. One of these days will be his day. I hope it will be Wednesday.”

Hall of Famer Edgar Prado will ride Yield Bogey, 10-1, from post 5.

$150,000 Poker Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, 5:06 p.m., 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Compliance Officer (NY), J Castellano, 118, B R Brown
2. Gourmet Dinner (FL), M J Luzzi, 116, B R Brown
3. Queen'splatekitten (ON), R Napravnik, 116, T A Pletcher
4. Monument Hill (MD), R Maragh, 116, G Weaver
5. Yield Bogey (KY), E S Prado, 116, P J Kelly
6. Clear Attempt (KY), J Lezcano, 116, W I Mott
7. Boots Ahead (KY), E Castro, 118, G Weaver
8. El Commodore (KY), J Alvarado, 116, G A Griffith
9. Right One (FR), J R Leparoux, 118, C Clement
10. Voodoo Storm (KY), J Rosario, 116, C R McGaughey III
Main Track Only
11. Uncle T Seven (NY), 118, R E Dutrow Jr.
12. Isn't He Perfect (KY), 118, R E Dutrow Jr.