Updated on 09/18/2011 2:21AM

Organizer a Classic surprise

Organizer with Eibar Coa riding wins the 2006 Empire Classic on Saturday at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Organizer had always been competitive with the top New York-bred handicap horses in training, but had never won an important statebred race. Saturday, at brisk Belmont Park, Organizer won the most important race for New York-breds, taking the $250,000 by three-quarters of a length over Carminooch.

It was a neck back to the slow-starting West Virginia in third. It was the third straight year that West Virginia was beaten as the favorite in the Empire Classic.

Funny Cide, making his first start in the Empire Classic, finished fourth, beaten 1 1/2 lengths.

The Empire Classic was the centerpiece of New York Showcase Day, a 10-race card devoted entirely to New York-breds that included seven stakes worth $1 million. A crowd of 7,594 attended the races, including several dignitaries from the sports and entertainment world, such as New York Mets players Paul Lo Duca and David Wright, and New York Yankees Hall of Fame pitcher Whitey Ford.

Actors Tony Sirico, Michael Imperioli, and Steven Van Zandt - all from HBO's "The Sopranos'' - were on hand as they were connected with the owners of Carminooch, who just fell short in his first start since February.

Organizer, under Eibar Coa, sat in third position while Run Red Run set the pace while being pressed by Naughty New Yorker, who was rushed up by Edgar Prado after a slow opening quarter.

Approaching the quarter pole, Organizer made a three-wide move while Carminooch, under John Velazquez was coming with a four-wide rally. Organizer struck the front outside the eighth pole, and was able to hold off Carminooch through the stretch. Organizer, owned by Majesty Stud and trained by Dominic Galluscio, covered the 1o1/8 miles over a fast main track in 1:49.45. He returned $47 to win.

"It saved the year for us,'' Galluscio said. "Getting off the pace was good. We've gotten to beat everybody in the race but not win the race.''

West Virginia hopped at the start, which compromised his chances. Todd Pletcher, who trains both West Virginia and Carminooch, said Carminooch ran as well as could be expected considering he hadn't raced since Feb. 17.