Dutrow Plays Hot Hand in Poker Handicap

(from Belmont Park report)
Jockey Edgar Prado had a hunch and trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. let him play it as Rebel Rebel came from well off the pace to score a 2 1/4-length win in the $110,900 Poker Handicap (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds.

"Prado called me last night and told me he wanted to take this horse off the pace," said Dutrow. "He usually lies close, but I told him to go on ahead and do it. I thought it was a great idea. He really likes this course. The only two times he's won in this country have been here. He's just getting a little bit better. There was never anything wrong with him, we were just trying to pick the right spots."

When Prado finally set the late-running Irish-bred 4-year-old Revoque colt down for his huge stretch charge, the 5-2 second choice kicked in to win the one-mile event on the Widener Turf Course in 1:33.34.

Rebel Rebel rated outside as outsider T.D. Vance set a pressured pace of :23.11; :45.57 and 1:10.29, with Around the Cape and Woodlander giving chase. It was a designed move to help him get his first win since taking an optional claimer at Belmont Oct. 20.

Dutrow took over Rebel Rebel's training from his friend Bobby Frankel last fall, and the strategy finally resulted in a black type victory.

"We switched it up a little today," Prado said. "The last time he won, he was a little further back and he had a nice kick. It worked out beautiful. I saw Javier (Castellano aboard Remarkable News) was behind horses."

Rebel Rebel earned $66,540 for owners IEAH Stables and Resolute Group Stables, boosting his lifetime bankroll to $410,615 with five wins in 18 starts.

Remarkable News, sent off as the 2-1 favorite, didn't get clear until late but finished strongly.

"He was trapped all the way around and couldn't come out," said trainer Angel Penna Jr.

Rebel Rebel paid $7, $3.50, and $2.80. Remarkable News returned $3.30 and $2.40. Vicarage, $3.30, checked in third with John Velazquez, followed by Willard Straight, Woodlander, Around the Cape, and T.D. Vance.

(Chart, Equibase)