Sunday's Best Bet: Made You Look the Poker Stakes pick

By Reinier Macatangay
June 16, 2018 05:19pm
Made You Look_Dania Beach 2017_615x400

Handicapper: Reinier Macatangay
Track: Belmont
Race 9 – Post Time 5:50 p.m. ET

Sunday at Belmont Park, the track will run the Grade 3, $300,000 Poker Stakes over a mile on turf. The race features the return of Oscar Performance, who set the pace in the Breeders’ Cup Turf before fading into the pack. Nevertheless, he is a three-time Grade 1 winner, meaning fans are looking forward to him. It is great to see a fan favorite come back.

Oscar Performance is not a lock to win coming off the layoff, though, so let’s try to beat him.

#5 Made You Look (6-1) – The now 4-year-old colt made a terrible appearance on the 2017 Derby trail, losing in the Fountain of Youth (G2) by 42 lengths. Then he started twice more for trainer Todd Pletcher with disappointing results before going on the shelf. When Made You Look returned in May under Chad Brown’s care, he looked like an entirely new horse winning over Inspector Lynley in an optional claimer. Even though he only won by a nose, the final time and speed figure are significantly faster than his 3-year-old form. This could be an improved horse compared to last year. Black Tide set up the pace in the optional claimer, and the same speed horse is entered here. Made You Look can rate and pounce again.  

#8 Fire Away (4-1) – If Made You Look fails to fire from behind, this one can take advantage. The off-the-turf Dixie (G2) figure is slow, but toss it out because it came on dirt. Two races ago in the Dangers Hour Stakes, he defeated notable names such as Projected and Mo Town. TimeformUS awarded a 121 Speed Figure. Then again, this is a 6-year-old horse, which means not a lot of improvement is coming. But if this horse can take one more step forward, he can win.

#1 Force the Pass (5-1) – The 118 TimeformUS Speed Figure earned on May 5 is low, but most of his numbers from last year are solid. If he can throw up a number in the mid-120s range in his second start off the layoff, it could be good enough. Jose Lezcano is a plus. 

#4 Ballagh Rocks (3-1) – It is hard not to mention such a consistent horse. TimeformUS has given him a 125 or higher in each race since June 18. The one obvious drawback is that bettors know this is a good horse just from taking a glance at his past performances. Do not expect any great value. Also, TimeformUS rates the Mott/Saez combination poorly at 45 out of 100.

#3 Oscar Performance (5/2) – Obviously, this is the horse to take down. Most everyone will forgive the Breeders’ Cup Turf effort. With an 11-6-0-1 record, this horse loves to win and should be taken seriously. One question to ask is whether he is ready off the layoff, as he did not initially seem ready last year. In the long scheme of things, losing the Poker will not be a big deal. Pace is against him too, as Black Tide and Voodoo Song will show speed.

The Plays:

Win/Place - #5 Made You Look


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