09/09/2011 12:55PM

Belmont: Pocket Cowboys back to where he runs best for Ashley Cole


ELMONT, N.Y. – Though he is based at Aqueduct and spends the summer in Saratoga, Pocket Cowboys is never more comfortable than at Belmont Park. Following another fruitless summer at the Spa, Pocket Cowboys returns to his favorite course in Sunday’s $100,000 Ashley T. Cole Stakes for New York-breds, run at nkine furlongs on the inner turf.

Pocket Cowboys has recorded four of his six career victories at Belmont – including all three of his turf wins. He is winless in five starts at Saratoga, and is coming off two losses at that recently-concluded meet.

“He gets all worked up, he was never comfortable up there," said Scott Schwartz, the owner and trainer of Pocket Cowboys. “He happens to love Belmont and the mile and an eighth is definitely in his favor."

Last fall, following two losses at Saratoga, Pocket Cowboys ran second in the Cole before winning the $125,000 Mohawk on New York Showcase Day. Both of those races are run at 1 1/8 miles.

Pocket Cowboys didn’t have a real excuse when beaten by Uncle T Seven in last year’s Cole, but Schwartz said he believes Pocket Cowboys had ample excuse when he finished third to Compliance Officer in last month’s West Point at Saratoga.

Pocket Cowboys had his head turned at the break and was away slowly. He raced three-to-four wide on both turns. In upper stretch, he dropped back from sixth to last of eight before coming on again to get third, 4 1/4 lengths behind Compliance Officer.

“I don’t know how he finished third," Schwartz said. “Must have been magic. The break cost him, he had a horrible trip, it looked like he was going to be last."

Pocket Cowboys, who gets a rider switch to John Velazquez, isn’t pace reliant and could be forwardly placed if there is no speed. However, with Straight Story and Writingonthewall in this field, lack of pace should not be an issue.

Compliance Officer, who is 3 for 3 since being claimed by Thomas LaMarca and trainer Bruce Brown, makes his first attempt at 1 1/8 miles. After winning two sprints at Belmont in the summer, Compliance Officer won the West Point at 1 1/16 miles handily.

“He’s really a different horse right now," said Brown, who also has Gimme Credit entered. “I was worried about the two turns and the longer race up there and he handled everything great. I think the combination of running him in the short races and Alex [Solis] getting along with him very well and getting him to relax has helped. If he can get in that mode where he did last time where he just relaxed no matter what the pace is he’s got such a big run in him it should be no problem."

The only time Straight Story has finished worse than second in nine starts at Belmont was when he finished sixth in the Grade 1 Manhattan in May.

Make Note, Theresmyeverything, Uncle T Seven, Minnie Punt, and Midnight Billy complete the field.