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Five across just before the finish. The outside horse, Gucci Factor, gets up for the win.
The $100,000 Poker Stakes (G3) closed out the stakes action at Belmont Park this weekend. A field of 8 older horses contested this 1 mile trip over the firm Widener turf course, under cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 80's. Makers 46 Mile (G1) runner-up Clyde's Image was sent off as the 9-5 favorite off his 3rd place finish in the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1). In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice Dr. Edgar, second in the Fort Marcy (G3), and 5-1 third choice Gucci Factor, winner of the restricted Kingston Stakes.
Jockey Dylan Davis sent Dr. Edgar to the lead exiting the chute through fractins of 23.71, 46.68, and 1:10.44 while pressed by Clyde's Image and stalked by 18-1 Krampus. Enterig the stretch, Clyde's Image moved up to inherit the lead through 7f in 1:20.50, Gucci Factor, 7th early under Joel Rosario, and 13-1 Hembree, 5th early under Irad Ortiz Jr., rallied on the outside as 5 horses hit the line together. The photo finish determined that Gucci Factor prevailed by a nose over Hembree in 1:32.53. It was another nose back to Krampus third, another nose back to pacesetter Dr. Edgar fourth, and yet another nose back to favorite Clyde's Image fifth. Officially a head separated first through fifth place.
Photos courtesy Nancy Rokos
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 Gucci Factor Rosario 12.20 6.70 4.20 2 Hembree Ortiz Jr. 10.20 5.60 3 Krampus Lezcano 8.60 Winning Time: 1:32.54 $1 Exacta 4-2 62.75 $1 Trifecta 4-2-3 432.00 $1 Superfecta 4-2-3-9 2,292.50
Left: Winner Gucci Factor leaves the paddock before the race. Winning trainer Christophe Clement said, "He's a nice horse that has never stopped improving. Of the five horses at the end, they all finished about a neck apart. It was a pretty good race. We're very grateful the owners, Castleton Lyons [Farm], were patient with this horse. He's an anxious kind of a horse. He loves Belmont Park and he never stopped getting better. It's nice when the patience pays off. He's also a son of Gio Ponti, which is always fun. You could see he was coming with run toward the wire and watching Joel not having to use his whip. You know he thought he was going to get there. A very tight race and they all ran well."
Right: Second place finisher Hembree leaves the paddock before the race. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "I knew it was very close. I had my head down right to the wire and we just got beat. I had a good trip. He's a nice horse and he ran so good - he just got beat."
Left: Third place finisher Krampus leaves the paddock before the race. The 18-1 shot stalked the pace in 3rd under Jose Lezcano saving ground, but could not improve late finishing 3rd beaten a nose. The Bill Mott trainee improved his record to 5 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds in 15 starts, earning $342,110 for owner-breeder William Schettine.
Right: Fifth place finisher and beaten favorite Clyde's Image leaves the paddock before the race.
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