Compliance Officer seeks a return to top form in Ashley T. Cole
By Jon Forbes | 09/12/2013 05:27 PM ET
Two years ago, Compliance Officer earned his second stakes victory when he won the Ashley T. Cole at Belmont Park. The 2011 Ashley T. Cole was part of a run for Compliance Officer in which he won seven of eight starts, five in stakes.
On Saturday, Compliance Officer will attempt to regain some of that magic when he competes in the 2013 edition of the Ashley T. Cole, a $150,000, 1 1/8-mile race on the inner turf course for New York-breds 3-years-old and up.
Compliance Officer opened his 2012 campaign with a three-quarter length victory in the Kingston in the spring at Belmont, but is winless in four subsequent starts. He was second in the Grade 3 Poker and third and second, respectively, in his title defense attempts in the West Point presented by Trusctco Bank at Saratoga and the Ashley T. Cole, his final two starts of the year.
"At the end of last year, he had an ankle injury," said trainer Bruce Brown, who claimed Compliance Officer for $25,000 on behalf of La Marca Stable in 2011. "No surgery or anything. We gave him the winter off. And then this spring he was coming back great and we were lining him up for the early New York-bred races, and he popped a splint on his one leg. That's what took us time. By the time we got him to the races in Saratoga, it had been almost a year between races."
In his comeback on August 26, Compliance Officer couldn't match strides with Plainview and Twigazuri Strait and finished third, beaten 5 ¾ lengths, in a starter allowance/optional claimer at Saratoga.
"He really needed that race; it was a good tightener," said Brown. "He should be ready to go. Nobody really went with [Plainview], and that horse is in really good form right now. It was a good race."
Alex Solis will ride Compliance Officer, 6-1 on the morning line, from post position 3.
Also entered in the Ashley T. Cole is Aliyu Ben J Stables homebred Lubash, who defeated Compliance Officer by a head in last year's renewal. Since then, he has added a victory in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy in May at Belmont. Following the Fort Marcy, he was third in the Kingston and fifth in the Grade 3 Poker in July at Belmont, and fourth in the West Point on August 15 at Saratoga.
"He's trained well [since the West Point] and had a decent work, so as of now he's a 'go,'" said trainer Christophe Clement.
Lubash, the 7-2 third choice on the morning line, drew post 8 and will be ridden by Junior Alvarado.
The winner of the West Point, Hangover Kid, was entered in the Ashley T. Cole but is unlikely to run, according to his trainer, Jason Servis.
Joe Bravo was named to ride Hangover Kid, who drew post 7 and was tabbed at 3-1 on the morning line.
The 5-2 morning-line favorite is Kharafa, third by one length in the West Point after setting the pace. Previously, he was second to King Kreesa in the Kingston in June and won an open entry-level allowance in July at Belmont.
Awesome Vision, a two-time stakes winner, is set to try grass for the first time in the Ashley T. Cole. He enters Sunday's race off a pair of sharp efforts at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt at Saratoga, having finished second by a head in the Evan Shipman on July 22 and recorded a one-length victory in the Saratoga Sunrise on August 16.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride Awesome Vision, 10-1, from post 6.
The field also includes West Point runner-up Hear the Footsteps, Majestic Raffy, Ampersand, and Idle American. Most Happy Fella was entered for the main track only.
The field for the $150,000 Ashley T. Cole (NYB):