09/15/2011 4:13PM

Belmont: Mission Approved may get new rider for Joe Hirsch

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Tom Keyser
Mission Approved, who won the Manhattan with Jose Espinoza up, could be replaced by Rajiv Maragh for the Joe Hirsch Invitational.

Mission Approved, upset winner of the Manhattan Handicap in June, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.91 Thursday morning over Belmont’s inner turf course as he prepares for a start in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational here on Oct. 1.

Jockey Rajiv Maragh was aboard for the work, fueling speculation that trainer and part-owner Naipaul Chatterpaul will make a rider change for the Hirsch. Jose Espinoza has ridden Mission Approved in his last four starts, including last month’s Arlington Million, where the horse finished seventh.

Chatterpaul said Mission Approved was a tired horse for the Arlington Million after having vanned on July 31 from Belmont to Saratoga for a turf workout that went in 57.65 seconds before shipping back to Belmont the same day. A few days later, Mission Approved was then vanned from Belmont to Arlington.

Chatterpaul said one of the reasons he is thinking about making a rider change is because Espinoza let Mission Approved gallop out six furlongs in 1:09.69 and seven furlongs in 1:22.76 in that work.

“The work at Saratoga messed it up,’’ Chatterpaul said. “Why gallop out seven-eighths that fast? You’re a jock, you’re up there, try to stop the horse from going that fast; so he contributed to half of it. So I’m thinking about a change; don’t know yet.’’

Chatterpaul said Mission Approved lost significant weight coming out of the Arlington Million, but has put most of it back. “He’s definitely back to himself,’’ Chatterpaul said.

In Thursday’s work, Mission Approved went his first quarter in 24.80 seconds and came home his final three-eighths in 36.11. Maragh has ridden Mission Approved twice previously when the horse was trained by Gary Contessa.