Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will send out two sons of Kingman in search of his first career score in Saturday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Poker, a one-mile Widener turf test for older horses at Belmont Park.
Brown, who will be represented by Masen and Public Sector, has sent out 13 previous Poker entrants with his best results coming from runner-up efforts by Raging Bull , Made You Look  and Projected .
Juddmonte’s British homebred Masen enters from an in-hand five-length triumph in the Seek Again traveling one-mile over a good Widener course on May 22 at Belmont. Manny Franco engineered the decisive victory over a compact three-horse field that garnered Masen a 100 Beyer Speed Figure.
The 4-year-old gelding launched his career in Ireland with conditioner Ger Lyons where he posted three wins at Leopardstown, including a 2 1/4-length victory in the seven-furlong Knockaire in October 2021 over good going in his final start before being sent to Brown.
Masen finished a heartbreaking second in his stateside debut in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile in April at Keeneland. Masen, with Flavien Prat up, was carried wide in upper stretch by the pacesetting multiple graded stakes winner Smooth Like Strait, before taking command in the final furlong only to be collared by Shirl’s Speight for a narrow nose loss. The prominent effort garnered a 104 Beyer.
The regally-bred Masen is out of the Smart Strike mare Continental Drift, whose dam Intercontinental was a multiple Grade 1-winning turf champion for Brown’s late mentor Bobby Frankel. In addition to Intercontinental, Masen’s third dam, Hasili, produced four other Grade/Group 1 winners for Juddmonte.
Masen has breezed back twice from the Seek Again, including a half-mile in 51.22 in company with Public Sector on Monday over the Belmont inner turf.
Klaravich Stables’ Public Sector, a 4-year-old colt, enjoyed a productive sophomore campaign, capturing the one-mile Grade 2 Hall of Fame in August and the 1 1/16-mile Saranac in September at Saratoga Race Course ahead of a win in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Hill Prince in October at Belmont.
The five-time winner from 11 starts launched his current campaign with an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Turf Classic on May 7 on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs. He is cross-entered in Saturday’s nine-furlong Grade 3 Monmouth at Monmouth Park.
Prat returns to the irons aboard Masen, assigned 120 pounds, from the inside post; while Jose Ortiz will guide Public Sector, who carries a field-high 124 pounds, from post 4.
Woodslane Farm homebred Woflie’s Dynaghost [post 5, Luis Saez, 118 pounds] has proven to be an omni-surface star with wins on dirt, synthetic and turf in his 13-race career.
Trained by Tom Albertrani, the 4-year-old Ghostzapper colt graduated at first asking in November 2020 over a good main track at Aqueduct Racetrack and two starts later captured an off-the-turf optional-claiming tilt over a sloppy and sealed Big Sandy.
He picked up a turf win in an optional-claiming event in December at Tampa Bay Downs and followed with a score over the Gulfstream Park synthetic in January. Wolfie’s Dynaghost secured graded-stakes placed status with a game runner-up effort to Phantom Currency in the Grade 3 Appleton in April at Gulfstream ahead of a distant pacesetting third last out in the Seek Again.
Albertrani said the good turf last out may have worked against Wolfie’s Dynaghost.
“I thought maybe the soft ground wasn’t to his liking for his last performance, but we’re hoping to get back onto firm ground,” Albertrani said. “He’s been training well going into this race. We’ll hopefully get a better performance this weekend.”
Albertrani said Wolfie’s Dynaghost came into his own over the winter in Florida with his only off-the-board effort in four starts coming in a good fifth, defeated 4 3/4-lengths, in the Grade 3 Challenger over the Tampa Bay main track. The winner of that event, Scalding, came back to capture the Grade 3 Ben Ali at Keeneland; while the runner-up, Cody’s Wish, followed with a five-length score in the Grade 3 Westchester at Belmont.
“He really has matured since a year ago,” Albertrani said. “We got a few nice races into him the past few months and besides the one dirt race we tried at Tampa, he’s been pretty well right there or thereabouts his last few races. Hopefully, we can throw out the last one.”
Albertrani said he will entrust Saez to work out a winning trip in the compact field.
“He can be either on the lead or close to the lead,” Albertrani said. “It really doesn’t make too much difference with him. The main thing is that he’s running comfortable.”
Out of the Dynaformer mare Dynaire, Wolfie’s Dynaghost is a half-sibling to the Albertrani-trained multiple graded-stakes winning multi-millionaire Sadler’s Joy, who was a staple in distance races on the turf with his trademark closing kick.
“’Sadler’ was definitely a route horse that always would come from last at a mile and three eighths or longer,” Albertrani said. “’Wolfie’ is more of a miler, who has a little bit more tactical speed, for sure. They’re two opposites. The mare has certainly thrown some nice runners.”
Edward Messina and William Butler’s Sanctuary City [post 2, Kendrick Carmouche, 118 pounds], a 5-year-old New York-bred son of Temple City, boasts a consistent record of 19-4-7-3 for purse earnings of $366,795.
Trained by James Ferraro, Sanctuary City closed from last-of-8 to finish second last out in the 1 1/16-mile Kingston against fellow state-breds on May 30 at Belmont. The late-running bay closed to finish fourth in last year’s Poker at odds of 32-1 and will be in search of his first score since taking an optional-claimer here last May.
Completing the field is Adele B. Dilschneider’s Penalty [post 3, Joel Rosario, 118 pounds], a four-time winner for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
The 7-year-old Blame gelding has raced twice since finishing sixth in last year’s Poker, including a fifth in the TVG at Kentucky Downs in September and a ninth-place finish last out in the seven-furlong Elusive Quality on April 30 at Belmont.
The Poker is slated as Race 6 on Saturday’s 10-race card. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.