The one-mile Mount Vernon will be run as race 5 on Sunday’s 10-race card, with the Kingston, also at one mile, going off as race 7.
“I really wanted to run him one more time last year because I didn’t know what to think after the Breeders’ Cup,” said trainer Bruce Brown, who just over a year ago claimed Compliance Officer for $25,000 for La Marca Stable. “He spent the winter in Ocala, and since he’s been back he hasn’t missed a beat. Our only problem is keeping him on the ground – it’s hard keeping him from doing too much.”
The 2-1 favorite on the morning line, Compliance Officer drew post position 8 and will be ridden for the first time by Javier Castellano.
Coming in to challenge Compliance Officer on his home turf will be graded stakes winner Mr. Vegas, fourth in the Grade 2 Mervin H. Muniz Memorial at the Fair Grounds last time out. Winner of the Grade 3 Colonel E. R. Bradley at the Fair Grounds in January, the Richard Scherer trainee will be returning to Belmont for the first time since last June, when he won an optional claimer at the Kingston distance while in the care of trainer Christophe Clement.
Miguel Mena rides Mr. Vegas, the 5-2 second choice on the morning line, from post position 6.
Also starting in the Kingston will be the winners of the past two editions: 2011 victor Pocket Cowboys and Minnie Punt, who won the previous year.
Owned and trained by Scott Schwartz, Pocket Cowboys has made two starts this year, finishing fourth in the Three Coins Up overnight stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack on April 13 and a distant third in the off-the-turf Milesius at Belmont on May 3. He will be ridden by Hall of Famer Edgar Prado at 10-1 on the morning line, leaving from post position 2.
Minnie Punt will be seeking his first victory since taking the 2010 Kingston. Now 6, the Gold Fever gelding has made four starts since, most recently finishing third in an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park on January 22. At 20-1 on the morning line, he will be ridden by newly minted Hall of Famer John Velazquez from post position 7.
Also entered, from the rail out, are Lubash, Writingonthewall, Abilio, and Street Game. Saginaw and Johannesburg Smile will run only if the race comes off the turf.
Hessonite has made a single start in 2012, stalking the pace and then finishing sixth behind Winter Memories in the Grade 3 Beaugay on May 5. Trained by David Donk for William Punk, Jr. and Philip DeLeo, the Freud filly was 4-1-1 from six starts as a 3-year-old in 2011, including a victory over males in the New York Stallion Series in August at Saratoga Race Course as well as the Ticonderoga and NYSS Cupecoy’s Joy at Belmont.
As the 7-2 third choice on the morning line, Hessonite will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez from post position 6.
Favored at 9-5 on the morning line is Gitchee Goomie, winner of the 2011 Mount Vernon and most recently second to Winter Memories in the Beaugay. The 5-year-old daughter of City Zip, trained by Rick Violette, has been first or second in all but one of her past 11 starts, the exception a fifth behind winner Stacelita in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont on October 1.
Gitchee Goomie leaves from post position 3 with Alan Garcia in the irons.
Risky Rachel, winner of both her 2012 starts by a combined margin of 11 ¼ lengths, will be making her turf debut in the Mount Vernon. The 5-year-old Limehouse mare, who added the Putthepowdertoit and Broadway stakes to her 2011 victory in the Iroquois, will be ridden by Cornelio Velasquez as she leaves from post position 4 at 3-1 on the morning line.
Completing the field, from the rail out, are Mystic City, Lisa Jean, Rogue’s Jewel, Dreaming of Cara and Frivolous Buck. Harbor Mist was entered Main Track Only.