10/16/2008 12:00AM

Banrock goes for sweep in Mohawk


ELMONT, N.Y. - The $150,000 Mohawk Handicap usually goes a long way in deciding year-end honors in the New York-bred male turf division. But with victories in the three traditional statebred races run this year, Banrock should be a cinch for male turf champion regardless of what happens in Saturday's 30th renewal of the Mohawk at Belmont Park.

Banrock, a 5-year-old gelded son of Go for Gin, can become the first horse to win all four of this circuit's major turf races for New York-breds if he's able to beat 11 challengers in the Mohawk, scheduled for 1 1/8 miles over Belmont's inner turf course. Fourteen were entered for the Mohawk, but only 12 will be permitted to start.

Banrock, trained by Tom Bush, won the Kingston at Aqueduct by a head, the West Point at Saratoga by two lengths, and the Ashley T. Cole here last month by a nose as part of his 4-for-6 campaign this year.

Banrock's victory in the Cole was noteworthy in that he won despite having to run on the lead the entire way in a race that was void of early speed. After turning back several challengers, Banrock was fortunate to win by a nose over Classic Pack, who was in front one jump before and one jump after the finish line.

"I didn't like where he was in the race, it was worrisome," Bush said of Banrock's front-running position. "He always seemed like a horse that liked to sit back and make one run. It should develop a little differently this time; it'll suit him better."

Banrock, who breaks from post 6 under high weight of 122 pounds including Kent Desormeaux, won't have to be on the lead, but he will have to try and catch Get Serious, who looks to be the only speed in the field. Trained by John Forbes, Get Serious won two allowance races at Monmouth Park in front-running fashion before blowing the turn when he was battling for the early lead with Big Brown in the Monmouth Stakes last month.

Get Serious, who breaks from post 5 under Pablo Fragoso, is coupled in the wagering with Gimme Credit, who finished third in this race last year.

Al Basha won the Mohawk last year, one of three wins he has over Belmont's grass courses. He was scratched from the Ashley T. Cole when he developed colic-like symptoms and had to be treated with antibiotics. He was able to run four days later, winning an open-company allowance race by three-quarters of a length.

Al Basha was favored over Banrock in the West Point, but finished fifth, beaten six lengths, over a soft Saratoga turf course.

"If it's firm, at least I think we can give him a run," trainer Angel Penna Jr. said.

Al Basha will break from post 11 under Cornelio Velasquez and 118 pounds.

My Man Lars had the outside post when beaten by three-quarters of a length in the Ashley T. Cole. Saturday, he'll break from the rail under Javier Castellano. After finishing behind Banrock four times this year, Classic Pack will get another shot at his nemesis.

Hanginbyathread, North Country, Solvent, Self Made Man, Stepaside, and Logic Way complete the field. Kettle Two and Allaboutmack need scratches to get in off the also-eligible list.