Organizer takes the Empire Classic, Saturday at Belmont Park.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Organizer takes the Empire Classic, Saturday at Belmont Park.
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Organizer Straightens Up in Empire Classic

(from Belmont Park report)
Majesty Stud's Organizer ended a winless 2006 on Saturday, waking up at the right time to score a 22-1 victory in the $250,000 Empire Classic, the nine-furlong feature on Belmont Park's New York Showcase Day.

On a day devoted to the New York Thoroughbred breeding and racing program, Organizer upset a field that included graded-stakes placed favorite West Virginia and 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness and 2004 Jockey Club Gold Cup (all gr. I) winner Funny Cide.

The tough luck Organizer, a 4-year-old Raffie's Majesty colt, had three seconds and a pair of thirds in his five previous starts this season. But in the Empire Classic, where he carried 115 pounds and got seven pounds from top-weighted West Virginia, Organizer was kept just off the pace by jockey Eibar Coa.

"I always thought he was a horse that didn't do his best on the lead," Coa said. "His last few races have been good, and he tries. My plan was to put him behind the speed today. He's going to give you everything he's got; you just have to do right by him."

It proved to be the ideal strategy, as long shot Red Red Run got the first quarter in :24.69 on the fast track, then was pressed from the inside by Naughty New Yorker as the half went in :47.46; three-quarters in 1:11.47, and the mile in 1:36.40.

Coa put his mount into a long, sustained drive as Carminooch and West Virginia tried to rally. Organizer hung tough and hung on to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:49.45.

Organizer paid $47, $16, and $6.20. Carminooch returned $7 and $5.20, and West Virginia paid $2.50 to show.

"Everything worked out today," said winning trainer Dominic Galluscio. "I thought, if he could come off the pace, he would fire a better shot. Getting off the pace was a big factor. We had a couple of tough beats this year with this horse. This saved the year for us."

Organizer earned $150,000 for his fourth win in 16 lifetime starts, snapping a seven-race losing streak while his bankroll jumped to $392,771.

Carminooch beat his favored stablemate, West Virginia, by a neck for the place.

"It looked like the break might have cost West Virginia," said trainer Todd Pletcher of his two charges. "He tried hard. Carminooch ran a big race off the layoff, too."

Funny Cide closed too late to finish fourth, just getting a nose down in front of Run Red Run. Naughty New Yorker, Spite the Devil, and Tommasi trailed.

Accountforthegold was scratched, as was Indian Hawke, who was entered for Wednesday's opening day feature of Aqueduct's fall meet, the $100,000-added Discovery Handicap (gr. III) at nine furlongs.

In the other stakes: Certifiably Crazy beat Classic Fran by a neck in the $150,000 Mohawk Handicap; Finlandia edged Sabellina by a head in the $150,000 Ticonderoga Handicap; No Reason took the $125,000 Iroquois Handicap; Gold and Roses captured the $125,000 Hudson Handicap; Chief's Lake, the 3-5 favorite, easily won the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes; and Grand Merger took the $100,000 Maid of the Mist Stakes.

Belmont Park's fall meet concludes on Sunday.

(Chart, Equibase)