Monday, August 13, 2012
COMPLIANCE OFFICER TO ATTEMPT WEST POINT DEFENSE
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Compliance Officer will mount a title defense Thursday afternoon at Saratoga Race Course when he takes on seven other New York-bred turf specialists in the $150,000, 1 1/16-mile West Point presented by Trustco Bank.
The 6-year-old son of Officer was named New York-bred male turf champion in 2011 after reeling off five consecutive victories including a sweep of the summer and fall New York-bred turf route stakes: the West Point, the Ashley T. Cole, and the Mohawk. The gelding captured the Kingston Stakes at Belmont Park over fellow statebreds on May 27 in his 2012 debut, and then was second to Clear Attempt in the Grade 3 Poker on July 4.
Javier Castellano has the call aboard Compliance Officer, the 6-5 morning line favorite. The pair will leave from post position 7.
Aliyu Ben J Stable’s Lubash, runner-up in the Kingston by three-quarters of a length, will take another shot at Compliance Officer on Thursday as he, too, returns to state-bred company. In his most recent outing, the 5-year-old son of Freud was fourth in the Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes on Independence Day at Monmouth Park.
“He’s doing great,” said Christophe Clement, who took over training Lubash this winter after the horse began his career in the care of James Ryerson. “Nice horse, very consistent, and I wish I trained more horses like him.”
For the Red Bank, Clement subtracted blinkers, which Lubash had worn in 18 of his 19 previous starts.
“I think he tries as hard as he can,” Clement said. “Probably he needed the blinkers when he was younger, but he seems OK without, so we are going to run him back without blinkers again. He’s a nice horse, and it would be nice to win a race.”
Jose Lezcano has the call aboard Lubash, 4-1 on the morning line, from post 5.
Street Game, third in the Kingston, will also return in the West Point after defeating a salty open optional claiming field at Belmont Park last time out on July 5. Winner of the Grade 3 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont last year as a 3-year-old, the Flying Zee Racing Stables representative was fifth in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs and seventh in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame before going to the sidelines for the remainder of 2011.
A nose winner in his 4-year-old debut at Gulfstream Park on February 5, Street Game was seventh behind Corporate Jungle in the Grade 3 Appleton Stakes at the south Florida oval on March 31.
“That [July 5] race was a tough group of horses on a very hot day at Belmont,” said trainer Phil Serpe, “but, there are some nice horses going [in the West Point]. Compliance Officer is tough, he beat Street Game down at Belmont.”
Ramon Dominguez will ride Street Game, 7-2 on the morning line, from post 8 and Serpe believes the Spa’s leading jockey suits the Street Cry colt well.
“That last race was the second time Ramon Dominguez ever rode him, and I think we might have been a little off base on communicating about how to ride him the first time [in the Kingston],” Serpe said. “I think Ramon was more prepared in the second start on how the horse likes to run, so I think that will help. He’s doing well, had some great works leading up to the race, so we’re very happy with him and we think he should do well for us.”
Stepping into stakes company for the first time is D Marleigh Stable’s Majestic Raffy. The 4-year-old son of Raffie’s Majesty has already made two appearances at Saratoga this summer, finishing seventh after a wide trip in a first-level open allowance on July 23 and coming back to win the same condition six days later.
“There are proven stakes horses in there, but he went through New York-bred conditions, won in open company, so he’s worth a try,” said trainer Joe Aquilino. “He likes it here, and he’s doing well.”
Apprentice Wilmer Garcia will ride the 20-1 shot from the rail.
Completing the West Point field are Minnie Punt, Abilio, Writingonthewall, and Johannesburg Smile. Socialsaul was entered for the main track only.
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