05/27/2011 4:26PM

Belmont Park: Banrock still in hunt for a win this year

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Banrock won the Kingston in 2008 and 2009.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Has Father Time caught up with the 8-year-old New York-bred Banrock, or is the eight-time stakes winner ready for a renaissance? That’s the question handicappers will have to debate when trying to decipher Sunday’s $100,000 Kingston Stakes at Belmont Park.

The Kingston, for New York-bred males, shares billing with the $100,000 Mount Vernon, for New York-bred females, on Belmont’s 10-race card. Both turf races have been shortened to one mile from 1 1/16 miles.

Banrock won the Kingston in 2008-09 before finishing fifth as the 8-5 favorite last year. It was one of three losses he suffered in a 2010 campaign shortened by injury.

Banrock came back this year and has gone winless in four starts – all against open company – but his trainer, Tom Bush, believes those efforts are better than they look especially his last start when he was beaten 2 3/4 lengths in a third-level allowance at Keeneland.

“He got too far back leaving there and through the first turn,” Bush said. “He closed very well. He wasn’t beaten all that far. By all appearances it looks like he lost a step, but he has to prove that to me because it looks like he’s ready to run one of his good races again.”

Javier Castellano, aboard for Banrock’s last win in the 2009 Mohawk here, will ride Banrock from post 3.

Lubash and Uncle T Seven look like the horses Banrock has to beat. Lubash won 5 of 10 starts last year, including three wins against statebred competition. He finished fifth in his seasonal debut, but trainer Jim Ryerson said his horse ``was a little too sharp” in his return.

Lubash has to carry top weight of 123 pounds.

Uncle T Seven finished fourth in a tough open-company allowance race on Feb. 12 at Gulfstream and has been freshened since then by trainer John Kimmel, who had jockey Alex Solis blow the horse out three furlongs in 36.40 seconds on Thursday.

“We’re going in off a light training schedule,” Kimmel said. “We’re testing the theory of how horses run fresh.”

Pretty Boy Freud, Piazza Di Spagna, Scientist, Pocket Cowboys and Spa City Fever complete the field.

Mount Vernon looks like match race

A field of seven was entered for the $100,000 Mount Vernon, though it figures to boil down to a two-horse race between Chorus Music and Gitchee Goomie.

Chorus Music, trained by John Terranova, has finished first or second in seven of her last eight races dating back to the fall of 2009. After winning a starter allowance last Nov. 21 to end her 5-year-old season, Chorus Music stormed to a 5 1/2-length victory in the Irish Linnet Stakes here on April 29 to kick off her 6-year-old campaign.

“She just came back in was real fresh and really loved the soft going,” her trainer, John Terranova said. “Not that she doesn’t like the firm too, she’s run fine on it. Maybe it was a case of the others not handling it as well as she did. Still, she ran remarkable off a layoff.”

Chorus Music is a slightly built filly, but Terranova noted that “she’s holding better weight this year than ever.”

Chorus Music will break from the rail under Alex Solis.

Gitchee Goomie, trained by Rick Violette, returns to New York-bred company for the first time since last year at Saratoga, when she was beaten a nose by Frivolous Buck, who is also in this field.

Gitchee Goomie won an open-company overnight stakes here last fall, an open second-level allowance at Gulfstream Park before getting beat a neck by Daveron in the Grade 3 Beaugay here on May 7. Gitchee Goomie breaks from post 5 under Alan Garcia.

Others entered in the Mount Vernon include Akilina, Exclusive Scheme, Loyal Shadow, and Paraiba.