Updated on 09/17/2011 10:34AM

Kingston looks full wet or dry


ELMONT, N.Y. - When entries were drawn Friday it was anybody's guess whether Sunday's $100,000-added Kingston Handicap at Belmont Park would be run on the turf. The Weather Channel was predicting a nasty day Saturday and clearing for Sunday.

Despite the dire forecast, the Kingston, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for New York-bred males, attracted a superior and overdrawn field. There are 10 runners in the main body of the race, plus two also-eligibles and four main-track-only horses.

Whitmore's Conn, a graded stakes winner, will be the 122-pound highweight if the race is run on turf. If the race is switched to the main track at the same distance, Gander is the highweight at 126 pounds. Gander's turf assignment is 115 pounds.

Gander, the most accomplished horse in the field with $1.6 million in earnings, might run on either surface and is the likely favorite if the race is run on the main track.

Gander's grass experience has been limited. In four turf starts, Gander has three runner-up finishes, including a distant second to Hap in the 2001 New Hampshire Sweepstakes at Rockingham.

"I wouldn't mind either surface, but I'm not crazy about running him on soft turf," said Gander's trainer, John Terranova II.

John Velazquez rides Gander, who drew the rail.

Celtic Sky, who won the Kingston last year, has not run since October. The layoff isn't a concern, according to Celtic Sky's trainer, Christophe Clement.

"He will be ready to run. I just hope the ground is not soft. He hates it soft," Clement said.

Whitmore's Conn, sixth in last year's Kingston, is better at longer distances. Last year, Whitmore's Conn won the 1 3/8-mile Bowling Green, a Grade 2, at Belmont.

"It's a good place to get him started," said Randy Schulhofer, trainer of Whitmore's Conn.

Schulhofer also entered Irish Colonial, who made a nice return to the races in a tough open-company race at Aqueduct in May. Last year, as a 3-year-old, Irish Colonial finished third in a pair of graded stakes. He also showed he could handle an off track by winning a maiden race by 11 3/4 lengths in the slop.

"It looks like he might be a little better this year," Schulhofer said.

The deep field also includes restricted stakes winners Haggs Castle and Quiet Ruler, and last year's Kingston runner-up, Reluctant Groom.

Statement is 2 for 3 in open company races this year. Sherpa Guide, a main-track only entry, has run some of his best races at Belmont, but probably won't run if the track is muddy.