Monday, June 15, 2009

Sailor's Cap Aces Poker; Kip Deville Folds

By Jack Shinar

Sailor's Cap overcame a 6 1/2-month layoff to blitz past the odds-on favorite Kip Deville in winning the $103,500 Poker Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) on a soft turf course at Belmont Park June 14.

The soggy condition of Belmont's Widener course was made to order for Sailor's Cap. Jockey Alan Garcia was content to rate the winning colt off the pacesetting Kip Deville before putting in a big run on the outside to post a 1 1/4-length triumph over Tam Lin. Yield Bogey, who kept the pressure on Kip Deville through most of the one-turn mile event, finished third, 3 3/4 lengths behind the winner.

The multiple grade I winner Kip Deville faded to fourth in his first start since running 10th in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) on World Cup Night March 28. Operation Red Dawn trailed throughout in the five-horse field.

Coming into the Poker, Sailor's Cap had won two of three starts on soft or yielding turf, including a 6 3/4-length score in the Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIIT) on soft going a year ago. His lone loss came by a neck in the American Turf (gr. IIIT) on a yielding Churchill Downs course in May 2008. The 4-year-old son of Distant View had never raced at the Poker distance, preferring longer trips.

Looking for a repeat win in the Poker, Kip Deville seemed intent to lead every step of the way, pulling jockey Cornelio Velasquez to the front from his far outside starting post. He showed the way along the inside over a closely-grouped field while carving fractions of :23.09, :47.17 and 1:11.89. Tam Lin, ridden along the inside by Javier Castellano, and Yield Bogey, on the outside with Jean-Luc Samyn aboard, kept the pressure on while Sailor's Cap, angled to the outside by Garcia for the stretch run, stalked comfortably.

Kip Deville maintained a clear advantage rounding the turn but gave up the lead near the eighth pole as Sailor's Cap quickly closed in and swept past his rivals. After getting to the front, Sailor's Cap held sway under right-handed urging while Tam Lin rallied along the rail to take the runner-up spot. Yield Bogey, always close to the pace, lacked much closing kick while Kip Deville drifted out late while tiring.

“Actually, I thought he dropped back a little bit further than I thought he would," said winning trainer James Toner. "We were going to try to sit in the pocket, but the big horse (favored Kip Deville) looked like he was a little rank today, so it worked out perfect.

"He made just a tremendous move the last part of it. He’s such a nice little horse – such a neat, little, athletic and competitive horse. I just hope we have a nice year with him."

Toner said the $150,000 Fourstardave (gr. IIT) over 1 1/16 miles at Saratoga Aug. 2 could be next, "but we’ll probably watch the Weather Channel first and see where it rains, and that’s where we’ll go.”

Owned by Team Valor International, Sailor's Cap collected his fourth win in 10 lifetime starts. This was his first race since finishing ninth in the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) Nov. 30.

Bred in Kentucky by Wave On LLC, Sailor's Cap is out of the Caveat mare Wave On. He earned $63,300 for the victory, pushing his career bankroll to $616,970.

Sent off as the third choice, Sailor's Cap carried 116 pounds, receiving seven pounds from the 7-10 favorite. He paid $13.40, $4.90 and $7.50. Tam Lin, second in the Fort Marcy Stakes (gr. IIIT) in his last start, returned $3.20 and $3.80 and completed a $2 exacta worth $48.40. Yield Bogey was $9.50 to show in his stakes debut for trainer Patrick Kelly.

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