Dodgy Poker Star should still shine
POKER STAR is worth another shot in Saturday's 1200-metre Thoroughbred Racing Hall-of-Fame Stakes after his encouraging second-place run behind speedy TALENTED TONY K at 1000 metres straight two Wednesdays ago.
The 2016 sprint champion is still searching for top form after returning off an eight-month lay-up last month but has shown that he can beat open allowance, though not at his best.
Throw his May 10 comeback race out the window after being rammed by CRUCIAL APPEAL at the gate. In the five-year-old gelding's next two starts, he first chased TALENTED TONY K almost to the last furlong in the Lotto Sprint on May 27 before being crowded a half-furlong out by CAMPESINO, CHACE THE GREAT and BRAWN.
Two Wednesdays ago, POKER STAR stayed on best of the rest, a field which included CRUCIAL APPEAL and UPPA TUNE, to be beaten a length by back-to-form TALENTED TONY K at 1000 metres straight.
CHACE THE GREAT returns in Saturday's seven-horse field as POKER STAR's main threat, finishing ahead of the five-year-old gelding in two of three starts since he returned to competition.
However, CHACE THE GREAT was far better off than POKER STAR at the weight in those races, receiving 14 and 12lb, on May 10 and 27, respectively.
In the 1100-metre Lotto Sprint, CHACE THE GREAT was 12lb lighter and had to fight hard to eventual overhaul an almost eased POKER STAR about a half-furlong out.
POKER STAR reports with topweight 126lb on Saturday, up six pounds in the scale. However, CHACE THE GREAT has risen by 12, up from 108 - a six-pound swing in POKER STAR's favour.
Anthony Nunes' ROYAL ASSAULT is the other genuine sprinter in the line-up but has not beaten open allowance in a while, winning his last two races in the lower class, and appears too close in the weight to POKER STAR and CHACE THE GREAT at 120lb.