Belmont Park Sunday Selections: Picking Winners on Poker Stakes Day

Chris Adams

One of Belmont Park’s premiere events takes place on Sunday, June 20. The 2021 Poker Stakes will feature 9 horses and run as the penultimate event on Sunday’s race card.

Sunday’s Belmont Card

With Belmont Park running races on a dirt track and two turf courses, their cards always have a variety of distances and surfaces. This can be challenging for handicappers who specialize over a certain distance or surface.

Watch and Wager on Belmont Park

New York racing offers some of the best coverage around day in and day out. Patrons can find their handicapping show “Talking Horses” on the New York Racing Association Youtube Channel. This typically live streams 45 minutes to an hour before first post.

Once the racing starts, fans can watch the livestream via the youtube channel or their online wagering platform NYRAbets.com.

The racing card will also be featured on FS2 from 12:30-5:30 pm Eastern.

Breakdown of the Card

  • Total Races: 10
  • Surfaces: Dirt (4 races), Widener Turf (3 races), Inner Turf (3 races)
  • Distances: Sprints (6 races), Routes (4 races)
  • Average Field Size: 9.4 Horses

Belmont is holding 4 races for horses who have not won a race. These are called “maiden races”. The card contains 2 of these races in both the early and late pick 5.

Due to the turf races there are a number of horses that are entered as Main Track Only entrants. These horses will automatically be scratched if the race is run on turf. Given that there is no rain in the forecast for New York, they are likely to be scratched.

The Poker Stakes

The Poker Stakes is a Grade 3 event and the highlight of the card. The headliner is Raging Bull who goes out for owner Peter Brandt, trainer Chad Brown, and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. When these three team up it is almost certain that the horse will be significantly backed at the betting windows.

On paper the horse looks much the best, but turf races are notorious for their close finishes and it can be dangerous to take too short of a price on any horse. The race is scheduled to be run at 5:12 pm Eastern Time.

Analysis of the Belmont Card

Most Wide Open Race

This weekend’s card has several races that are extremely competitive. However, Race 3 presents a particularly interesting challenge. The race is a Maiden Special Weight for $90,000 going 6 furlongs on the turf.

One of the things that makes this race so difficult to handicap is that it is limited to 2 year olds who are either making their first or second start. This means limited data for handicappers to make their decisions.

One of the best tips when it comes to these types of races is to watch the tote board. The money will often come in on these races from people “in the know”. They may have heard that a horse is working well or poorly. The money isn’t always right, but it can be a great tipoff with very little else to go off of.

Best Bet

Race #8 features a 5-2 favorite in# 9 Sinful Dancer out of War Dancer. The horse goes out for his 4th career start for an 11% jockey and an 18% trainer. Sinful Dancer has been close in both of his previous 2 dirt starts returns to the surface where he ran his two career best speed figures.

Live Long Shots

  • Race 1: #8 Happylife (10-1) has shown early pace numbers that meet the par for this level of horse. The drop in class could be enough against this field devoid of winners.
  • Race 3: #8 Angeli Blue (12-1) debuts for a trainer who wins 23% with his firsters on turf. Joel Rosario is aboard and could time out a perfect trip for this debut runner.
  • Race 5: #5 Herald Angel (8-1) will be ridden by gate speed jockey Luis Saez for the first time. Being on or near the lead is a huge advantage in these turf sprints. The horse is trained by Mike Maker who could probably train a mule with cement horseshoes to win a Grade 3 on the turf.

Belmont Park Expert Selections

Understanding the Picks

Horses are listed in order of preference.

  • * Indicates the best bet of the day
  • (LS) Indicates live long shots

Selections

  • Race 1: 4-1-8 (LS)-2
  • Race 2: 3-7-2-1
  • Race 3: 7-8 (LS)-1a-3-1
  • Race 4: 4-2-1-6
  • Race 5: 3-2-5 (LS)-11
  • Race 6: 4-1a-11-3
  • Race 7: 11-3-4-9
  • Race 8: 9*-10-6-1
  • Race 9: 1-6-2-5
  • Race 10: 2-15-11-14-7

Good luck in all of your wagering endeavors at Belmont Park and venues across the country.

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