Updated on 10/20/2012 8:50AM

Belmont Park: Lubash one to beat in Mohawk following scratch of Compliance Officer

Barbara D. Livingston
Lubash looks for his third consecutive New York-bred stakes win in the Mohawk on Saturday.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Compliance Officer, listed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s $175,000 Mohawk Stakes at Belmont Park, was scratched from the race due to an ankle injury that will likely sideline him the remainder of the year, trainer Bruce Brown said Saturday morning.

Brown said Compliance Officer came out of his last work with an issue but he was hoping the horse could recover in time to run.

“He probably just overextended himself and sprained it,” Brown said. “It’s nothing major, but he’s going to need some time. We had some hope that he’d be okay, but it’s not good enough especially with what looks like it’s going to be soft turf.”

Brown said Compliance Officer would be given off the remainder of the year, but that he would be brought back to race again next year.

Compliance Officer won the Mohawk last year as part of a campaign in which he won six of eight starts and was voted New York-bred champion turf male.

Brown will still be represented in Saturday’s Mohawk by Strong Impact, who he had been entered as a pace-setter for Compliance Officer because Brown felt he had been compromised by lack of pace in his last two starts.

With Compliance Officer out of the race, favoritism will likely fall to Lubash, who has vaulted to the top of the New York-bred male turf division with his victories in the West Point at Saratoga and Ashley T. Cole at Belmont.

Lubash has developed a versatile running style that makes him dangerous under any pace scenario and he, can handle soft turf.

“It’s great when you don’t have to worry too much about the ground,” trainer Christophe Clement said.

Trainer Phil Serpe was very confident in Street Game’s chances in the Cole, but was disappointed that jockey Ramon Dominguez had the colt so far back off a slow pace. Joe Bravo rides Street Game in the Mohawk.

“I really thought he could have won the last race,” Serpe said. “I respect Ramon as much as anyone I just don’t think we took advantage of zero pace. He could have been much closer.”

Street Game won the Grade 3 Hill Prince by 7 1/4 lengths here as a 3-year-old over yielding turf.

“Soft turf isn’t going to hurt him, but a couple of the others have run well on it too,” Serpe said. “I just want the horse to redeem himself. I know he’s as good as the others, with all due respect, and I think he deserves to win one of these.”

Unbridled Command, who has won three consecutive races, including the Grade 3 Saranac, gets Dominguez and is more than capable of winning in this spot.

Ticonderoga: Hessonite likes it soft

Trainer David Donk welcomes the fact it’s going to rain the day before the $175,000 Ticonderoga Stakes. He just doesn’t want it to rain too much.

“The only concern is to make sure it stays on the grass,” Donk said.

On soft turf, Hessonite is strictly the one to beat in the Ticonderoga, a race Hessonite won last year over yielding ground by 1 1/4 lengths over Gitchee Goomie.

Hessonite and Gitchee Goomie meet for the sixth time this year and seventh overall in the Ticonderoga. It will be the last career start for Gitchee Goomie. Hessonite is cataloged in the November sale at Keeneland, but it is not etched in stone that she will go through the auction ring, according to Donk.

After a slow start to the year, Hessonite has won three of her last four starts, the loss being a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl, where she was in tight in upper stretch.

“Fortunately, she came out of her last race okay after a rough trip,” Donk said. “She’s trained really well.”

Dominguez rides Hessonite from the rail.

Gitchee Goomie was as consistent as they come, finishing in the top three in 17 of 19 starts until she ran fourth the Yaddo and John Hettinger.

“She’s doing great, she’s trained terrifically,” trainer Rick Violette said. “I hope there’s still a fire in her belly and she can make a good last showing. I don’t know why the last two performances have been subpar Gitchee Goomie performances. Maybe she’s given us her ‘A’ game so many times, she doesn’t have any more ‘A’ games to give.”

Gitchee Goomie breaks from post 6 under Alan Garcia.

Trainer Tom Bush said Wholelottashakin would appreciate soft turf. Shakeira, who is 3 for 5 since being claimed by Chad Brown, figures to come running late.

If the race is rained off to the dirt, Go Unbridled would become the one to beat.