Forego a Wide Open Affair

July 26, 2015

It takes a very special horse to have a Grade I stakes race named after you but this weekend, SAR holds a bevy of them and one of the most important and prestigious is the Forego, named for a three-time Horse Of The Year who ranks as one of the Top Ten American racehorses of all-time. A winner of 14 Grade I races including such events as the Woodward Stakes (four times), Brooklyn Handicap (three times), Jockey Club Gold Cup, Carter Handicap and the Metropolitan Handicap, he was the champion Older Horse four straight years yet still had enough in his early career to finish fourth in the Kentucky Derby of 1973, behind the immortal Secretariat. After his retirement, a race in his honour was inaugurated and since 1980, some of the top sprinters in history have won including Fappiano, a sire of multiple champions, and Groovy, Housebuster, Langfuhr and Midnight Lute, all champions in their own right.

At HRP, the Forego has been a different story with only a handful of successful winners; in fact, it provided the only Grade I wins for its first three victors with LionKing proving to be the best of the early winners with his score in 2006, after winning the Met Mile earlier in the season. Shoot Skyhigh won impressively in 2009 and again in 2011, and scored back-to-back BC Sprint victories to become the best and most high profile Forego winner, while Nefarious Leadership took the race last year as a three-year-old with a career-best effort and now, will face a full field of 13 in hopes of becoming another duel winner, and a millionaire as well with an increased $700.000 purse to tempt everyone from around the country.

1-Masterpiece Five (Four-year-old black colt / Owner-Razorback Racing)

Multiple Grade II winner Masterpiece Five has already had a long season with seven starts, all in Graded Stakes company, and he continues that foray into the top level with a start in the Forego after failing in both the BEL Sprint and the Vanderbilt over this same course. He stalked the fractions last time out but could not go on through wicked splits and the hope is that seven-furlongs will be better for him, as he can sit inside and find that coveted rail run that everyone at SAR dreams of these days.

Analysis-Much better than his recent form suggests

Fair Odds-8/1

2-Nefarious Leadership (Four-year-old black colt / Owner-Mb Stables)

Defending Forego champion Nefarious Leadership only has a single win in five seasonal starts for his new connections and after finishing last in the Grade II CD, and only fourth in the Suburban going three-furlongs longer, he cuts back to a sprint in an attempt to sharpen his skills. Speed ratings have fallen off since his three-year-old season and he might not be the same horse he was, especially with the added weight and added pressure of having to defend a title that he won over a similar but smaller field.

Analysis-Won last year but is not the same colt
Fair Odds-12/1

3-Gear Too (Five-year-old bay gelding / Owner-Rousee)

Gear Too had a great four-year-old campaign, ending in a Grade III win at SA, but he is winless against easier this season and despite two runner-up efforts in N3X company, looks up against it when facing some of the top sprinters at HRP. He was unable to hold his spot in the Grade II San Carlos three-back and has not improved since that attempt and with declining speed ratings, will be a longshot to hit the board until he can build some confidence back.

Analysis-Not in the same league as others

Fair Odds-25/1

4-Nebraskan Diademe (Three-year-old gray colt / Owner-Drabfantasy)

Two quick wins at the start of the season had Nebraskan Diademe poised for a big season but he has not been seen since that San Vicente score and coming back in this spot will be tough, even for a colt with such big talent. He gets an inside post to sit and stalk and clearly likes the seven-furlong distance but the time away and lack of experience against older horses will inflate his odds and if he can win, it will lead to a massive career for both himself and his sire and dam, who come from a top notch branch.

Analysis-Major layoff and lack of racing increase his chances

Fair Odds-10/1

5-Rule The Roost (Eight-year-old bay gelding / Owner-Sanny Village)

Owner Sanny Village has done incredibly well this older horses this year, as Mister Major can clearly attest to, and Rule The Roost has gone from a $5.000 claim to a Grade I winner of nearly $700.000 and came become the leader of his division with a win here going his preferred distance. A winner of the Carter and the BEL Sprint, and a charging third in the CD, he owns four consecutive triple-digit speed ratings where others have yet to crack that mark at all and with his current form, he has to be considered the favourite to stalk, pounce and rocket home to victory.

Analysis-Hard to knock at this distance

Fair Odds-3/1

6-Moon Landing (Three-year-old bay gelding / Owner-Mb Stables)

Since being purchased for $150.000, Moon Landing has done enough to earn that price back with a minor stakes win at MTH and a score in the Grade I Triple Bend at DMR from off-the-pace but that effort came behind a blistering middle pace and in this field, the traffic troubles might be enough to stop his momentum. He gets a break in weights being a three-year-old and does have a big six-furlong workout at PRX so there is much to like if he can run back to his last effort but that is the question mark and off the freshening, he might need this as a prep for the Vosburgh and his expected start in the BC Sprint as well.

Analysis-Might be a stepping stone to bigger events

Fair Odds-8/1

7-Angelic General (Five-year-old black gelding / Owner-Gdp Inc)

Angelic General is already a winner of the Forego Stakes this year but that was a minor event at TP in January and it would be very appropriate if his next win came in this event, making an anamoly that few at HRP have ever been able to accomplish. That being said, he has been close but unable to win at similar levels including a bang-up second in the Smile Sprint at GP and while the added distance will help, he needs a closing kick that has not been there and against this group, will be tough to find and back once again.

Analysis-Has not been able to get it done against easier

Fair Odds-10/1

8-Hold The Point (Four-year-old gray colt / Owner-Big Guns Stables)

Hold The Point used a 6.5-furlong win at WO as a stepping stone to the restricted Bertrando at LA but that attempt ended in a dismal effort and while he might be able to regroup somewhat, this competition is probably too tough for him and he will rank as an outsider based on his current form. Going short has been okay for him but he has never really found his ideal spot and although he is good, he might not be good enough for a placing here despite a good workout in preparation.

Analysis-Another one who is tough to back off current form

Fair Odds-25/1

9-Tophatbigcigar (Four-year-old bay gelding / Owner-End Run Farm)

The career of Tophatbigcigar has been one of top notch efforts, followed by big disappointment, and if his cycle continues on Saturday, he will be in for a midpack finish after failing to fire in the Crosby at DMR last time out. The move from the West to the East has always been decent for him but going short has never really been his forte and a change in jockey and one of the outside posts will add to his shortcomings as he tries to rebound and put himself back into the Sprint picture.

Analysis-Big effort in the Kona but has not been the same since

Fair Odds-12/1

10-Ginsoaked Muse (Six-year-old gray gelding / Owner-Barcelona Farms)

Ginsoaked Muse has gone an entire career without finishing outside of the top three and after rocketing home to finish second by a nose in the Grade I Vanderbilt, the added furlong and another outside post will make things that much better for this improving six-year-old. Another of the older generation who has really turned things around this year, he continues to get better for top connections and with a returning jockey, has all the right tools to make things tough for his rivals in that crucial final furlong.

Analysis-That extra distance will only help him

Fair Odds-5/2

11-Miss The Mummy (Three-year-old bay gelding / Owner-Blushing Meadows)

Miss The Mummy has been unable to compete with the best of his age group in recent sprint events like the Stephens or the Dwyer and coming off a tiring fifth in the Crosby, he will need to show more early restraint if he hopes to ration his speed from another outside draw. Speed ratings are in decline and so is his recent form and although he will like being back in NY, this level seems too difficult and a return to restricted company might help him regain some lost form before the season is done.

Analysis-Will need to harness his early speed

Fair Odds-20/1

12-Five Star Five (Four-year-old gray colt / Owner-Harrell Racing)

Five Star Five owns a victory at SAR over this same distance but that effort came in the Grade I Kings Bishop last season and he will now try to duplicate that race with another rousing off-the-pace effort from a wide stall. He proves best in the Smile Sprint after sitting chilly in the opening furlongs and if he can get a pace to chase inside, he might be able sweep down the outside and score another big effort in what has become a solid sprinting career for a former TC challenger.

Analysis-Powered to victory at GP and could do the same here

Fair Odds-9/2

13-Blame Ratman (Three-year-old bay colt / Owner-Australia Wide)

It is nice to see owner Australia Wide back in these big stakes races and with Blame Ratman, you get a $350.000 purchase who improved at DMR last time and could be coming up for a bigger than expected race. An outside gate will help him down the backstretch and he does like to close but his speed ratings are much lower than others and the fear is that he might need a race at this level to prove himself, before he moves back into more reachable company as a three-year-old should.

Analysis-Fast last time out but this is a tough Grade I

Fair Odds-15/1

14-Hallelujah (Six-year-old bay horse / Owner-Eastern Equine)

Hallelujah will try to give his dam back-to-back Grade I winners in the Forego but coming off a series of route races, the return to a sprint is not really a good angle and he will be up against it to hit the board despite speed ratings that suggest otherwise. He was good enough to finish in a state-bred stakes race going short as a juvenile but has made all of his money going long and with the farthest stall, will have to get into the race much quicker than normal and that could leave him short in the final furlong.

Analysis-Does not really fit in this race

Fair Odds-20/1


Older horses take the top three spots in my handicapping of the Grade I Forego at SAR on Saturday afternoon and with Ginsoaked Muse on top, you get an improving six-year-old for a top barn that missed going shorter over this same course, and has the right running style to sprint home faster than others. Rule The Roost lands another middle post that will help him secure a great spot around the turn and he would not be a surprise to win based on his recent form and speed ratings, while Five Star Five has a win over this track last year and gets an outside post to close from, which helped him win at GP last time and should assist him here as well.


Win-Ginsoaked Muse (5/2)

Place-Rule The Roost (3/1)

Show-Five Star Five (9/2)

Triple T Racing 🙂

Categories: Grade I

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