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Banrock Seeks West Point Trifecta


Banrock, king of the New York-bred turf division, will try on Thursday to become the first horse to win three consecutive runnings of the $100,000 West Point at Saratoga Race Course.

Banrock has won 3 of 6 career starts at Saratoga and captured 11 of his 12 career victories against fellow New York-breds. Although he is winless in two starts this year, the 7-year-old Nyala Farm colorbearer has shown an affinity for life in Saratoga and trainer Tom Bush believes the gelding is ready for a big effort in the 1 1/8th-mile West Point.

“He does well here,” Bush said. “He likes the atmosphere. We are always happy to bring him up to Saratoga. He’s coming into the race the right way. I think we’re in good shape. I don’t know how you win a race three times, but we’re going to try.”

Banrock was fifth in an attempt to win his third consecutive Kingston at Belmont Park on May 30, his first start of the year. He enters the West Point off a neck defeat in the open company Battlefield Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 10. Alan Garcia, aboard in the Battlefield, retains the mount from post position 11 in the field of 12 as the 3-1 morning-line second-choice.

Exiting a fourth-place finish in the Battlefield is Minnie Punt, who defeated Banrock in the Kingston earlier this year.

Owned and bred by the Pino family’s Marjac Pino Stable, Minnie Punt captured a 1 1/16th-mile statebred optional claimer on the turf at Belmont on May 1 before winning the Kingston with Jose Lezcano up. Tabbed as the third-choice on the morning line at 9-2, Lezcano has the return call from post 2.

Richard Santulli’s Straight Story, most recently fourth in the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth Park on July 3, will try for his third win of the year in Sunday’s race. The 4-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway was second to Minnie Punt in that May 1 optional claiming event, then came back to wire a 1 1/8th-mile race with the same conditions on May 29 at Belmont. He easily won a Monmouth turf allowance on June 20, just two weeks prior to starting in the United Nations.

Javier Castellano will ride the 5-2 morning-line favorite from post 8.

Trying the turf for the second time in his career is Icabad Crane, who finished sixth behind Banrock in the 2009 edition of the Kingston, his first try on grass.

“As long as the turf is firm, I’m inclined to give it a shot,” said Graham Motion, who trains the gelding for Earle Mack. “The course was soft in the Kingston and he just didn’t care for it, but it’s hard for me to think this horse won’t handle the grass the way he trains on the [synthetic track at Fair Hill] in the morning. In the back of my mind, I have a feeling that [the Kingston] just wasn’t a fair test. He’d been running hard prior to that and we ended up giving him a break after his next start. He’s fresh now, in good form, and it’s a great opportunity to try it again.”


Off from mid-April to the end of July, Icabad Crane finished a neck behind Giant Moon in his most recent start, the Evan Shipman on July 26 at Saratoga. Julien Leparoux will ride from post 10.


Completing the field in the West Point are Come Undone, Spa City Fever, and Midnight Billy the first, second and fourth-place finishers in a 1 1/16th-mile optional claimer on the Saratoga turf July 24; Pretty Boy Freud, second in a one-mile turf allowance on July 29; Pocket Cowboys, third in a 1 3/16th-mile optional claiming event on July 31; Writingonthewall, who finished fifth in a first-level allowance race at Monmouth Park on July 16; Kutais, a winner over the artificial surface at Presque Isle Downs in his most recent outing, and Piazza Di Spagna, seventh in a Saratoga turf allowance on July 24.


Giant Moon and Mineswept may run if the race is moved to the main track.

The field for the $100,000 West Point:









Come Undone (NY)

R Maragh


P M Serpe



Minnie Punt (NY)

J Lezcano


M Miceli



Pretty Boy Freud (NY)

J R Velazquez


L O'Brien



Pocket Cowboys (NY)

E S Prado


S M Schwartz



Spa City Fever (NY)

J F Chavez


P J Kelly



Writingonthewall (NY)

R A Dominguez


C F Martin



Midnight Billy (NY)

J L Espinoza


J Ortiz



Straight Story (NY)

J Castellano


A E Goldberg



Kutais (NY)

G K Gomez


S Torelli



Icabad Crane (NY)

J R Leparoux


H G Motion



Banrock (NY)

A Garcia


T M Bush



Piazza Di Spagna (NY)

C H Velasquez


G Sciacca


AE 13

Giant Moon (NY) (MTO)

E S Prado


R E Schosberg


AE 14a

Mineswept (NY) (MTO)

A Garcia


P M Serpe


A - Coupled Entries - Come Undone, Writingonthewall, Mineswept





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