09/12/2009 11:00PM

Banrock eyes another repeat in turf stakes


ELMONT, N.Y. - Banrock began the year by winning his second straight Kingston Handicap at Aqueduct. Last month, Banrock made it back-to-back victories in the West Point at Saratoga. Sunday, at Belmont Park, Banrock hopes to double his pleasure when he seeks a repeat victory in the $100,000 Ashley T. Cole Stakes for New York-breds on the turf.

Banrock heads an eight-horse field entered for the Cole, provided it stays on the turf at 1 1/8 miles. Two others, including Naughty New Yorker, were entered in the case the race is moved to dirt. The Cole is the supporting feature on a 10-race card that includes the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap, rescheduled from Friday.

Banrock needed virtually every inch of the Saratoga stretch to get past a stubborn Pennington to win the by a head, his 10th win from 28 career starts. Trainer Tom Bush had some concern entering that race because Banrock had been ready to run for 10 days prior to the event.

"Before that race, he was burning a lot of energy," Bush said. "He was real wound up in the security barn. He was wound up in the paddock."

Entering the Cole, Bush feels better about things, especially returning to the spacious Belmont turf course where Banrock has recorded 5 of his 10 wins.

"He has a very good record at Saratoga, but his record at Belmont is exceptional," Bush said. "The wider turns are made for him the way he's built. I'm very excited to run him this time. He's coming to this race great. I hope he doesn't make a liar out of me because he's doing fabulous."

Banrock seems to relish soft ground, which he figures to get after Friday's soaking rains.

Pennington is only 1 for 5 this year, but he has put together a string of three good efforts.

"It took him a couple of races this year before putting things together," trainer Rick Violette said. "He's been unlucky not to have won a couple of them. Banrock is a top horse, it would have been nice to get the nod, but we gave him everything he could ask for."

The 3-year-old Straight Story could be dangerous as potentially being loose on the lead under Javier Castellano. He drops out of three consecutive Grade 2 tries, including second-place finishes in the . Straight Story is 2 for 2 on Belmont turf against New York-breds.