10/23/2009 11:00PM

Banrock pursues elusive Mohawk for a third time


ELMONT, N.Y. - Of the four traditional turf stakes carded on this circuit for New York-bred males, the Mohawk is the only one that has proven elusive thus far to Banrock. Banrock will try to rectify that Sunday when he makes his third attempt at winning the Mohawk against a full field of New York-breds in the 1 1/8-mile turf race at Belmont Park.

The Mohawk, along with the Ticonderoga for fillies and mares, were both rescheduled from Saturday when forecasted showers put turf racing in doubt for that day. The Mohawk and Ticonderoga are two of six stakes on the nine-race closing-day program at Belmont. Racing shifts eight miles west to Aqueduct beginning Wednesday.

Banrock, a 6-year-old gelded son of Go for Gin, has won the last two runnings of the Kingston, Ashley T. Cole, and West Point handicaps. In 2007, before he developed into the force he now is, Banrock finished sixth in the Mohawk. Last year, he finished fourth.

"Last year we were fourth, beaten a length, and I thought I was going to jump off the grandstand,'' trainer Tom Bush said. "I could see he had a lot to do turning for home and when he finally got him outside he did start to come. He just didn't have enough to get by those horses.''

Banrock excels over soft ground, which he is likely to get if the forecast for rain here Saturday proved correct. Sunday is expected to be dry and sunny, but the damage is likely to be done. Banrock did win the West Point at Saratoga over firm turf.

"I'm most proud of the race at Saratoga on the hard ground,'' Bush said. "I thought it was just a real gritty effort on his part. He could have easily lost that race.''

Pennington has come closest of any New York-bred to defeat Banrock this year. He came within a head of Banrock in the West Point and three-quarters of a length in the Ashley T. Cole.

"Banrock, he's as solid as they come and obviously we have to have our 'A' game and Banrock not get the trip that he always seems to get,'' said Rick Violette, trainer of Pennington. "We need a little luck."

Gimme Credit has lost his last 18 races, but was beaten only two lengths by Banrock in the Ashley Cole here in September.