05/27/2010 11:00PM

Banrock going for three-peat


ELMONT, N.Y. - The hard-knocking, ultra-consistent Banrock will be a sentimental as well as betting favorite for Sunday's $100,000 Kingston Stakes for New York-breds at Belmont Park. But for the non-sentimentalists looking to beat the chalk, there are alternatives.

Banrock, the 2009 New York-bred turf and older male champion, is making his first start in six months in the Kingston, carded for 1 1/16 miles on the outer turf course. While he has captured the last two Kingstons, both were run on yielding ground, on which Banrock excels. The turf should be firm come Sunday. As the 123-pound highweight, Banrock will spot five to seven pounds to the field.

Trainer Tom Bush knows all this, but still has confidence in his 7-year-old gelding based on how well he wintered in South Carolina under the care of Donna Freyer, and how well he appears to have done since rejoining Bush in March.

"Last year I probably didn't have the confidence level going into his first start of the year, and he just ran exceptionally well," Bush said. "This year he's just done so well ever since he got back. The only thing is he's not going to be starting back with his favorite ground, which is soft. That's always a little bit of a concern, because he does really excel on it."

Writingonthewall was away from the races for 18 months because of a ligament injury. He returned last winter and ran two disappointing races on dirt. After another freshening, he returned with a solid second-level allowance win on turf, in which he went gate to wire. Trainer Carlos Martin believes Writingonthewall is in top form entering the Kingston and is hoping this is the right time to face Banrock.

"The way our horse ran the other day, if he moves up a few more lengths off that race -- which I expect him to -- I think they're going to have to really run to beat us," Martin said.

Gimme Credit came within a length of Banrock last October at Belmont. Since then, he was claimed for $50,000 by Chad Brown. Gimme Credit has lost his last 23 starts since winning over this course on June 17, 2007.

Minnie Punt rallied sharply under Joe Bravo to win a statebred second-level allowance race here on May 1. Uncle T Seven was second to Minnie Punt in a New York Stallion Stakes here a year ago.

Extra Zip and Star of New York are likely to set the pace in the Kingston. Cash'n Dixie completes the field.