Monday, August 11, 2008
BANROCK ROCKS IN WEST POINT HANDICAP
Nyala Farm’s Banrock had a couple of things going for him in Sunday’s $111,000 West Point Handicap for New York-breds at Saratoga Race Course – the weather, and jockey Kent Desormeaux.
Over nine furlongs of an outer turf course rendered soft by afternoon rains, the 5-year-old gelded son of Go for Gin enjoyed a perfect trip, staying three-wide off fractions of 35.37, 50.48 and 1:14.60 set by Mission Approved, then barreling into the lead in the stretch and finishing with a flourish to earn the victory over a pair of longshots.
Classic Pack, 13-1, closed for second, two lengths back, with 18-1 My Man Lars a nose behind in third. Gimme Credit, favored Al Basha, Extra Zip, Mission Approved and Foreverness completed the order of finish. Hammock and Key Event was scratched.
Banrock, the second choice in the field, returned $7.80 for a $2 win bet as he won for the third time in his last four starts, including victories in an overnight stakes and the Kingston Handicap at Belmont Park. Overall, he has seven wins from 21 starts and, with the winner’s purse of $66,600, a bankroll of $363,673.
“He’s good right now; he’s a tough boy,” said trainer Tom Bush of Banrock, who completed the mile and one eighth in 1:51.41, with the rail set at 12 feet. “That’s a good group there. There were three or four nice horses there that I was worried about. I thought that Al Basha was going to really have to come up with a big race (on the soft going) to beat Banrock. We caught him at the right time.”
Although he won over a firm course at the Spa last year, Banrock’s last three victories have come over courses rated good or yielding, making Bush perhaps the only person in the immediate vicinity who was happy to see it rain.
“We were pretty sure he would (handled the soft turf) and he did,” said Bush.
WEST POINT HANDICAP QUOTES
Winning Tom Bush of Banrock (No. 8): “We were pretty sure he would (handle the soft turf) and he did. He’s good right now; he’s a tough boy. That’s a good group there. There were three or four nice horses there that I was worried about. I thought that Al Basha was going to really have to come up with a big race (on the soft going) to beat Banrock. We caught him at the right time.”
Winning jockey Kent Desormeaux (aboard Banrock): “I was able to get close to the front, effortlessly, and when we turned for home he was full of run. This horse has gotten really good. (Trainer) Tom (Bush) has done a great job with him.”
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