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Readtheprospectus, Cluster of Stars featured on Empire Showcase Day

Empire Classic highweight Readtheprospectus has not lost in more than a year (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
The streaking Readtheprospectus will bid for his eighth win in a row in Saturday's $250,000 Empire Classic Handicap, which anchors Belmont Park's seven-stakes extravaganza for New York-breds billed as Empire Showcase Day. Also looking to stay on a roll is undefeated multiple Grade 2 heroine Cluster of Stars, who will compete in the $150,000 Iroquois Handicap.

Readtheprospectus has not lost since breaking his maiden here almost exactly a year ago to the day. The Chad Brown trainee cleared his first- and second-level allowance conditions in both state-bred and open company, then handled a class hike into New York-bred stakes. Successful in the June 1 Commentator Handicap and the September 19 Spite the Devil in his last pair, the Read the Footnotes gelding ranks as the 124-pound highweight. He will break from the outside post 8 with regular rider Junior Alvarado.

Drawn just to his inside is Saratoga Snacks, runner-up in the 2012 Empire Classic in his only prior attempt at 1 1/8 miles. The Gary Sciacca pupil next captured the December 26 Alex M. Robb, but has raced only twice in the interim in sprints. Saratoga Snacks made a winning reappearance from a six-month layoff in the June 30 Shy Groom, and followed up with a troubled third in the August 1 John Morrissey at Saratoga. The pace factor, who nearly wired this race last year, takes a big stretch-out from 6 1/2 furlongs this time. Joel Rosario, aboard for both of his starts this term, stays in the saddle.

Awesome Vision and Bigger Is Bettor traded decisions in the Saratoga Sunrise and Evan Shipman over the summer, while Warrioroftheroses comes off a narrow loss in the restricted Governors Day Stakes at Delaware. Spa City Fever was second to Readtheprospectus in the Spite the Devil two back, Zetterholm makes his second start off a 14-month layoff, and Moneyinyour Pocket invades from Finger Lakes.

Cluster of Stars looks to go 7-0 in the Iroquois (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Cluster of Stars is plenty good enough to have been a contender in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, but she's not BC nominated, and Turtle Bird Stable preferred not to supplement her. Showcase Day was the beneficiary of that decision, and Cluster of Stars is very much the one to beat in the seven-furlong Iroquois.

The Steve Asmussen filly has aired in all but one of her starts. Her only close call was a hard-fought head victory in the February 2 Correction. A daylight winner of the April 13 Distaff Handicap, Cluster of Stars returned from a five-month holiday to wire the September 21 Gallant Bloom Handicap by five resounding lengths. By snapping Dance to Bristol's winning streak on that occasion, she extended her own skein to six. The 124-pound highweight has drawn in the middle of the field, post 5, with a returning Javier Castellano.

Defending Iroquois champion Willet, who romped by 9 1/4 lengths over Miss Valentine last year, bested that same rival by a half-length in the September 27 Princess Dixie. Vicki's Dancer makes her first start off the claim for Rudy Rodriguez, a 29 percent trainer in that category.

The $150,000 Hudson Handicap at six furlongs has attracted a competitive field highlighted by Chowder's First hero Palace and third-placer Night Maneuver; defending champion Mine Over Matter, last seen finishing second to the ill-fated Saginaw in the John Morrissey; fellow Mike Hushion trainee B Shanny, fourth in the Morrissey before dominating the August 17 Leon Reed Memorial at Finger Lakes; and recent allowance winners Cay to Pomeroy and Moonlight Song.

King Kreesa shortens up and reverts to state-bred company in the Mohawk (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Poker winner King Kreesa, a valiant second to Horse of the Year Wise Dan two back in the August 10 Fourstardave Handicap, is the one to catch in the $200,000 Mohawk. The speedy gelding failed to stay the 1 1/2-mile trip in the September 28 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational last out, winding up a remote seventh, but should be back in his element over 1 1/16 miles on the turf Saturday.

Among his notable rivals are multiple Grade 3-winning sophomore Notacatbutallama, who exits a fourth in the October 5 Jamaica for Todd Pletcher; 2011 Man o' War upsetter Mission Approved, sidelined since finishing 14th in the Japan Cup nearly two years ago; and the superfecta from the September 15 Ashley T. Cole -- Kharafa, Lubash, Hear the Footsteps and Compliance Officer, respectively. Compliance Officer could be rounding into form in his third start back from a year-long layoff, and adds blinkers in hopes of regaining the Mohawk title he won back in 2011.

In the companion race for distaffers, the $200,000 Ticonderoga, Shakeira seeks to go one better than her runner-up performance in last year's running. The Brown mare broke through with her first stakes score in the June 1 Mount Vernon, and warmed up with a near-miss second to Sally's Dream on September 25.

No fewer than six Ticonderoga contenders are getting a rematch from the September 15 John Hettinger. Effie Trinket, Wholelottashakin and Inimitable Romanee fought out the finish in that order, while Dreaming of Cara, Harbor Mist and Lady's Lunar Luck were off the board. A new shooter is the three-year-old filly Frosty Bay, victorious in the June 30 Cupecoy's Joy and the August 8 Statue of Liberty divisions of the New York Stallion Stakes.

Wired Bryan is the one to beat in the Bertram F. Bongard (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Sanford Stakes winner Wired Bryan, who crushed the September 28 New York Breeders' Futurity at Finger Lakes, stays in the state-bred confines for the $150,000 Bertram F. Bongard. The seven-furlong test for juveniles has also lured good-looking maiden winner Empire Dreams from the Tom Albertrani barn; Carolinian, a recent entry-level allowance winner for Gary Contessa over So Lonesome and Captain Toews; Sol the Freud, third in the Law Enforcement at the Spa; Sing the Dream, a 9 1/4-length hero of the Tin Cup Chalice at Finger Lakes; and Fox Rox, a distant third to Wired Bryan last time.

Court Dancer warrants respect in the $150,000 Joseph A. Gimma for two-year-old fillies, also at seven furlongs. A 7 3/4-length debut romper versus New York-breds at Saratoga, the George Weaver pupil was a creditable fourth in the September 29 Matron. She will meet two from the Linda Rice barn -- sharp Spa maiden winner Miss Narcissist and Shesastonecoldfox victress Champagne Ruby -- along with Fox Hill Farms' Nutmeg, who conquered a Parx maiden by seven lengths, and the intriguing maiden Star Grazing. Best of the rest behind subsequent Frizette star Artemis Agrotera in their mutual debut, the Chester and Mary Broman homebred was a closing fourth on turf next out, and adds Lasix for Jimmy Jerkens.

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