Poker Thievery Works for Christine's Outlaw

R.C. Hill Stable's Christine's Outlaw found the Belmont Park turf to his liking once again and the 4-year-old colt responded with his first graded stakes victory, a front-running surprise over a talented field in the $112,600 Poker Handicap (gr. IIIT) Saturday.

Christine's Outlaw was sent to the lead early under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan and was never headed. He held off favored Millennium Dragon, who kicked in late, by a neck in a time of 1:32 2/5.

The Wild Again colt went off at odds of 13-1carrying 113 pounds, enjoying a seven-pound break in the weights from Millennium Dragon.

Making his third turf appearance, Christine's Outlaw set a pace of :23, :46, 1:09 on the firm outer turf course, where the portable rail was out 18 feet. Burning Roma and Chilly Rooster pressed early, but Christine's Outlaw wore them down and opened up.

Millennium Dragon, meanwhile, made a strong move on the backside to get position, saved ground inside and then shot off the rail to take a final run at the winner. Jockey Mike Luzzi claimed foul against the winner for coming out in the lane, but it was disallowed.

"He was on the lead, and he started goofing off a little," Bridgmohan said. "I knew I had more horse, so I figured if I hit him, he would give me more. I showed it to him, and he drifted out a couple of paths, but by then I was clear."

Christine's Outlaw has now won five of 16 starts with earnings of more than $340,000, and two of those triumphs have come on the Belmont turf, where he started in his last three races. He was second by a neck in the other start.

"We're not committed either way (to turf or dirt)," said trainer George Weaver of Christine's Outlaw future. "But his record on grass is pretty good."

Millennium Dragon, meanwhile, will likely go in Saratoga's $150,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) at nine furlongs on the turf on July 30.

Silver Tree was third, with Megoman, Chilly Rooster, Burning Roma, Provincetown, Pisces and Multiple Choice trailing.

Christine's Outlaw returned $29.60, $10.60 and $5.80. Millennium Dragon paid $3.90 and $2.70 and Silver Tree paid $2.90 to show.

(Chart, Equibase)