Bet on the Poker Stakes
The Poker Stakes is a staple of Belmont Park’s Spring Meet and has been traditionally held in mid-June and is open to older horses. The race was run for the first time in 1983 at the distance of a mile and a quarter on the turf but evolved quickly to a one-mile grass contest, the distance at which it is currently run, in 1987. The race currently holds Grade 3 status and offers a purse of $300,000.
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Poker Stakes Betting Odds
King Kreesa, the minor upset winner of the 2013 Poker Stakes, was back with a vengeance and sprung the shocker at odds of 17-1 in 2015. With the 2-1 favorite Il Campione (CHI) finishing third and Vyjack, another price at nearly 9-1, in second, the exotic payouts were generous. The exacta returned $281.50 and the trifecta brought $1,493. With an online betting site, horseplayers can get even more value out of their wagers – Bovada’s racebook offers 3% win-or-lose rebates on all straight wagers and 5% back on exotics.
2016 Poker Stakes Contenders
A compact but competitive field of six has been assembled for the 2016 edition of the Poker Stakes. King Kreesa, a seven-year-old New York-bred gelding, will be trying to make history and become the first horse to win three installments of the race. He won in 2013 and again in 2015 for trainer David Donk. Despite that resume, he is the longest shot on the board at odds of 10-1.
The favorite at odds of 9-5 is a strong invader from the West Coast – the well traveled and accomplished gelding Obviously (IRE). At eight-years-old, he is the oldest of the veterans in the race and has won eleven times. After an abbreviated 2015 campaign which culminated in a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), he has been second in both starts this year and has been on the shelf since February. This will be his first career start at Belmont Park.
Chad Brown, always a formidable player in turf races, has a pair of contenders – Offering Plan and Takeover Target. Takeover Target is coming out of a graded stakes win at Pimlico.
Here is the field for the Poker Stakes along with morning line odds.
- Grand Arch, 7-2
- Force the Pass, 5-1
- Obviously (IRE), 9-5
- Offering Plan, 6-1
- King Kreesa, 10-1
- Takeover Target, 4-1
Did you know?
The track and course record for one mile on the turf at Belmont Park was set in 1998 by Elusive Quality. Ridden by Jerry Bailey and trained by Bill Mott, he won by six lengths and completed the race in 1:31.63 – that record remains standing today.
There have been several horses who have won multiple editions of the Poker Stakes. The popular New York turf star, Fourstardave, won the race in both 1989 and 1993. He actually made five appearances in the race over the course of his Hall of Fame career. Affirmed Success won the race in 2000 and 2001 and King Kreesa took both the 2013 and 2015 editions.
Volponi won the Poker Stakes in 2002 in a minor upset at odds of 9-1. That was not the only upset the bay son of Cryptoclearance would have that year – after being primarily a turf horse, he switched to the main track for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and pulled off a shocker at odds of 43-1 over a star-studded field.