10/12/2012 3:23PM

Belmont: Compliance Officer gets pacesetter in Mohawk

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Bruce Brown hopes a faster pace will help Compliance Officer.

ELMONT, N.Y. − Believing that Compliance Officer has been compromised by pedestrian paces in his last two starts, trainer Bruce Brown will give his champion New York-bred turf horse some help when he runs in next Saturday’s $175,000 Mohawk Handicap at Belmont Park.

Brown said he will enter the speedy Strong Impact to act as a pacesetter, or rabbit, for Compliance Officer in the Mohawk, one of seven stakes restricted to New York-breds to be run on New York Showcase Day.

Strong Impact and Compliance Officer are owned by Thomas La Marca.

“The last couple of races the pace has been lacking,” Brown said. “This time there’ll be an honest pace.”

Last year, Compliance Officer won the Mohawk by five lengths, capping a year in which he went 6 for 8, captured all four of the traditional stakes for New York-bred turf males, and was named champion male New York-bred turf horse.

Compliance Officer won the Kingston to begin this year. After finishing second in the Grade 3 Poker to Clear Attempt, he finished third in the West Point at Saratoga and second in the Ashley T. Cole at Belmont. He was beaten in both races by Lubash.

“This is the final chance to run against Lubash,” Brown said. “It’s do-or-die as far as a shot to be New York-bred champion like last year.”

Strong Impact has sprinter’s speed and came within a neck of going wire to wire in a one-mile optional claimer Sept. 16.

“Strong Impact will make the pace honest, and if they leave him alone he could settle down and go all the way,” Brown said. “He’s a rabbit with a legitimate chance.”

Others pointing to the Mohawk include Fox Rules, Get Serious, Lubash, Majestic Raffy, Minnie Punt, Street Game, and Unbridled Command.

Short field likely for Empire Classic

The $250,000 Empire Classic at 1 1/8 miles on dirt is the centerpiece of the New York Showcase Day program. By Friday, there were only four horses considered definite for the race: Lunar Victory, Saratoga Snacks, Johannesburg Smile, and Sailmate.

Brigand and Fiddlers Afleet are considered question marks, according to Andrew Byrnes, the stakes coordinator for the New York Racing Association.

Saginaw, who has won six of eight starts this year from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, is expected to run in the $150,000 Hudson Stakes at six furlongs, his trainer, David Jacobson, said.

Willy Beamin skips Showcase Day

Willy Beamin, the Grade 1-winning New York-bred, is expected to skip Showcase Day and is tentatively pointing to the Grade 3, $150,000 Discovery at Aqueduct on Nov. 17, his owner, James Riccio Sr., said.

Willy Beamin is 6 for 8 this year, highlighted by his win in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop going seven furlongs at Saratoga. That win came three days after he won the Albany Stakes for New York-breds at 1 1/8 miles.

Willy Beamin most recently finished second, beaten three-quarters of a length by Politicallycorrect, in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park.

While there are three weeks between the Oklahoma Derby and New York Showcase Day, Riccio said that timing doesn’t work well for the horse or his trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr.

“Rick likes it short or likes it long in between races, not in the middle,” Riccio said.

Riccio said that while the Discovery is his first target, he did not discount waiting one more week and running in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Nov. 24.

“We’ll see who’s going where and pick the easiest spot we can find,” Riccio said.

Mucho Macho Man at Belmont

Mucho Macho Man, based at Saratoga since May, has relocated to Belmont Park, where he will continue his preparations for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Classic will be run at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.

Mucho Macho Man, winner of the Grade 2 Suburban here in June, arrived at Belmont on Thursday and was scheduled to breeze Saturday over the training track.

“It’s a little bit warmer here,” trainer Kathy Ritvo said when asked about the switch.

Last Saturday, Mucho Macho Man worked five furlongs in 57.79 seconds over the Oklahoma track at Saratoga.