Lubash returns to defend title in West Point presented by Trustco Bank
By Jenny Kellner | 08/12/2013 05:34 PM ET
Lubash, who in 2012 came from last to score a mild upset in the $150,000 West Point presented by Trustco Bank, returns Thursday to defend his title in the 34th edition of the 1 1/16-mile turf race for New York-breds at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Christophe Clement for Aliyu Ben J Stables, the 5-year-old son of Freud enters the West Point with a 1-1-1 record from four starts this year, including a half-length win over Bombaguia in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy on May 4 at Belmont Park. Most recently Lubash was fifth, a little more than three lengths behind winner King Kreesa, in the Grade 3 Poker on July 4.
"He had been having some issues with his feet, but he's on the way back, if not all the way back," said Clement of Lubash, who also won the Cab Calloway division of the New York Stallion Series in 2010 at Saratoga. "Hopefully, he will be ready to run his race."
With Jose Lezcano riding, Lubash will leave from post position 2 as the 5-2 favorite on the morning line. At 123 pounds, he is the highweight among the 10 entered in the main body of the race.
Second choice at 3-1 on the morning line as he goes for his first stakes victory is Kharafa, a 4-year-old gelding who was a 2 ½-length allowance winner on July 12 at Belmont Park last time out.
Kharafa's runner-up performance to King Kreesa in the Kingston on June 1 convinced trainer Timothy Hills to take a shot at the West Point. King Kreesa subsequently won the Grade 3 Poker then finished a game second to reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap last Saturday at Saratoga.
"That was really the deciding factor," said Hills, who trains Kharafa for Lawrence Durocher, Jr. "He's been doing well since that race, and this seems like a good spot."
Rajiv Maragh will be aboard Kharafa when he leaves from the outside post 10 under 118 pounds.
The West Point also has attracted graded stakes winner Street Game, who opened his 6-year-old campaign with a victory over Lubash in the Dave overnight stakes in April at Aqueduct, and was subsequently fourth in both the Kingston and the Elkwood Stakes on July 5 at Monmouth Park.
At 5-1 on the morning line, Street Game - winner of the Grade 3 Hill Prince in 2011 - will be ridden by Hall of Famer Edgar Prado from post position 6.
Leaving from the rail is Mr. Vegas, who returns to Saratoga for the first time since his maiden victory on August 31, 2009. The 6-year-old gelded son of Freud was third in his 2013 debut, a one-mile optional claimer on July 27 at Arlington Park. Joel Rosario was named to ride Mr. Vegas, 10-1 on the morning line.
Rounding out the main body of the race are Jonrah, making his stakes debut after scoring his first Spa victory on August 5 in an optional claimer; Barrel of Love, most recently eighth in the Fiddlers Patriot Stakes; Hear the Footsteps, who brings a three-race win streak in optional claimers into the West Point; Abilio, seeking his first victory since 2011; Hangover Kid, most recently third at 47-1 in the Grade 1 United Nations, and Mia Poppy, winless in six 2013 starts.
Entered main track only are Bigger is Bettor, Awesome Vision, Groomedforvictory, So Scott, and Most Happy Fella.
The field for the $150,000 West Point, presented by Trustco Bank: