Poker Star favoured over six furlongs
POKER STAR's glowing exercise gallop, 1:06.3 for a flat five and a half furlongs, last Sunday morning, makes him the horse to beat in Saturday's six-furlong overnight allowance. However, that doesn't mean the former Sprint champion can't be taken down by race-fit SARAH LEE, aboard whom Aaron Chatrie strangely went against his trademark rail-running style and blew the turn, seven-wide, in her last race.
Both horses met in their last two starts with SARAH LEE twice finishing second ahead of POKER STAR. In fairness to POKER STAR, he was coming off a 10-month lay-up in the GA 'Sarge' Bucknor Memorial on May 19 and went off at 20-1 in the five-furlong straight race won by his stablemate, MR UNIVERSE, with hardly any exercise gallop of worth to his name.
When he returned two weeks later, at five and a half furlongs, POKER STAR trained, somewhat, clocking 1:07.4 for a flat work, the last five in 1:01.3, and was installed the 8-5 favourite. However, he slammed into CAPTUREMYSHIP at the start, but not an impact that should have cost him the race because he had every chance for a furlong out in the stretch run.
In contrast, SARAH LEE, who completely blew the turn, closed from behind POKER STAR to run on strongest inside the last half-furlong, failing to catch WONG DON by a neck. Were it not for Chatrie's unlikely decision to go outside at the top of the lane, SARAH LEE would have been unsaddled in the winners' enclosure.
POKER STAR looked somewhat lethargic in the stretch run, which could very well have been him needing a second work under his girth, which he got last Sunday morning and really impressed in.
However, for POKER STAR, the 2015 sprint champion, to have been away for 10 months, July 2017 to May 2018, there could be a chink in his armour. In fact, it was his second lengthy lay-up, previously missing for eight months, September 2016 to May 2017. It should be noted that he hasn't won a race since May 2016.
On back class and exercise report, which suggests improved fitness, POKER STAR, now refitted with his customary tongue tie, is very enticing, but SARAH LEE is worth every dollar of a brave wager, a decent run-on sprinter whose last win was at six furlongs, beating A.P.I. and MR UNIVERSE.