The G1 Forego Stakes is on tap for this Saturday, August 25 at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Horses three years old and upward will chase the winner's portion of the $600,000 purse when they take to Saratoga's dirt track and race seven furlongs.
Trainer Mark Casse will be looking to make history on Travers Day, but even as Wonder Gadot attempts to become the first filly in 103 years to win the Mid-Summer Derby, another of his contenders looks to earn a Grade 1 win as Awesome Slew highlights an eight-horse field in the $600,000 Forego for 3-year-olds and up on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
One of six Grade 1s on a stacked slate, the 39th running of the Forego, carded as Race 9, is a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in November at Churchill Downs.
2018 Forego Stakes Odds & Entries
Race 9 on Saratoga's Saturday card with a Post Time of 4:12 PM
|1||Limousine Liberal||3-1||Jose Ortiz||Ben Colebrook|
|2||Awesome Slew||10-1||John Velazquez||Mark Casse|
|3||Whitmore||4-1||Ricardo Santana, Jr.||Ron Moquett|
|4||Heartwood||30-1||Manuel Franco||James Chapman|
|5||No Dozing||12-1||Joel Rosario||Arnaud Delacour|
|6||C Z Rocket||9-2||Shaun Bridgmohan||Albert Stall, Jr.|
|7||Warrior's Club||10-1||Luis Saez||D. Lukas|
|8||City of Light||9-5||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Michael McCarthy|
Live Oak Plantation's Awesome Slew will be making his 18th career graded stakes start. The 5-year-old son of Awesome Again won the 2016 Grade 3 Smarty Jones that helped propel him to a successful 4-year-old campaign in which he registered wins in the Grade 3 Commonwealth at Keeneland and the Grade 3 Ack Ack at Churchill. He also ran second in three graded stakes that year, behind Sharp Azteca in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, Mind Your Biscuits in the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship and Drefong in last year's Forego.
Awesome Slew capped his year with a third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar. He started 2018 off running second to Army Mule in Grade 1 Carter April 7 at Aqueduct and third in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs on May 5, both at the Forego distance of seven furlongs.
After a disappointing eighth in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at a mile on Belmont Stakes Day, June 9, Casse turned Awesome Slew back to seven furlongs in a talent-laden optional claimer on July 21 at Saratoga in which he ran third.
"I thought his race was a little on the dull side, and looking back at some of his best races, we've trained him a little harder heading into races," Casse said. "So, you'll see, I put in a really strong breeze into him, just changing things up and trying to get him back on track."
Awesome Slew has finished on the board in all seven of his previous starts at the Forego distance, going 1-4-2.
"His last race wasn't super, but there wasn't a lot of pace," Casse said. "Awesome Slew is the type of horse that needs others to do things for him, so the race has to set up well for him. Unlike Wonder Gadot, who can dictate what she does, Awesome Slew has one running style. He's won going seven furlongs. If there's a big speed duel and it collapses late, he's going to come running. If they get away with a slow pace, he'll [struggle]."
Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who was aboard for Awesome Slew's Breeders' Cup start and his last two races, will have the return call from post 2.
Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren, Jr.'s City of Light will be shipping east for his Saratoga debut after a successful campaign on the West Coast. The 4-year-old Quality Road colt is 4-3-1 in eight career starts for trainer Michael McCarthy.
In his first four graded stakes starts, City of Light registered victories in the Grade 1 Malibu and the Grade 1 Triple Bend, both at seven furlongs on Santa Anita Park's main track, and shipped in to win the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap on April 14 at Oaklawn Park in which he netted a 107 Beyer. He ran third in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Park on May 26 and will now be making his Saratoga debut, drawing post 8 with meet-leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. picking up the mount.
"After [he was third in] the Gold Cup, we had circled the Whitney, as Mr. Warren has been wanting to bring him east," McCarthy said. "He started the Del Mar meet off with a bit of a foot bruise, and we didn't want to rush things with him. With two Grade 1 wins at seven furlongs, the Forego looked like an ideal spot."
Churchill Downs Racing Club's Warrior's Club will look to come out to play coming off two solid efforts in sprints, rallying for second by 3 ¾-lengths to Imperial Hint in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on July 28 at the Spa.
Trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, who won the 2002 Forego with Orientate, Warrior's Club won his first graded stakes earlier this year, running down Limousine Liberal to win the Grade 3 Commonwealth on April 7.
"He is the model all of us would like to own," Lukas said. "All you have to do is feed him, take him over there, put him in the gate, he's unbelievable. What a neat horse...he's a joy."
Luis Saez will be in the irons from post 7.
Limousine Liberal has finished on the board in 11 consecutive races, including a win in the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint on July 7 at seven furlongs. The Ben Colebrook trainee will be returning to the Saratoga track for the first time since last year's third-place finish in the Vanderbilt Handicap.
Owned by Katherine Ball, Limousine Liberal has earned $1,645,261 through 23 career starts. Jose Ortiz, who piloted the 6-year-old gelding to a win in the Belmont Sprint, will ride again from post 1.
No Dozing, who won an optional claimer in a near-record time on July 21 at Saratoga, besting a stakes-tested field that included Awesome Slew, will return to stakes company for trainer Arnaud Delacour, who won the 2016 Forego with A.P. Indian.
The win over a fast track at Saratoga marked No Dozing's first race off an eight-month layoff. He will now make his first graded stakes appearance since the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens last August, drawing post 5 with Joel Rosario.
"He's a 4-year-old and he's exactly what you hope for when they go from 3 to 4; he's gotten stronger, bigger and muscular," Delacour said. "He's probably a little better going a mile, but seven furlongs is a good distance for him."
Whitmore is coming off back-to-back runner-up finishes by a neck, nearly overtaking Imperial Hint in the Grade 2 True North on June 8 and coming up short to Limousine Liberal in the Belmont Sprint.
Trained by Ron Moquett, Whitmore, who started his year with wins in the Hot Springs on March 10 and the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 14 at Oaklawn Park, will have Ricardo Santana, Jr. ride from post 3.
C Z Rocket won his first stakes in the Kelly's Landing, registering a four-length score on June 30 at Churchill. After ending his 3-year-old season with a disappointing sixth in the Grade 1 Malibu, trainer Al Stall, Jr. gave him more than five months off before he returned to run third in an optional claimer on June 1, propelling him into his strong stakes performance.
"He has a few races under his belt. We're still scratching our heads about the Malibu. We felt good about how he was training out there, but things like that sometimes happen," Stall said. "So, he got a nice breather and I thought a pretty good comeback race at Churchill. He clearly benefitted from that race. So, the next logical step if you wanted to stay with this distance on this side of the country is the Forego."
C Z Rocket will break from post 6 in tandem with jockey Shaun Bridgmohan.
Heartwood, trained by James Chapman, will be going for his first graded stakes win. Manny Franco will have the call from post 4.
2018 Forego Handicap Pre-Draw Notes
No Dozing puts in final work before G1 Forego Handicap at Saratoga
Mr and Mrs. M. Roy Jackson's No Dozing put in his final work before the Grade 1 Forego Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, breezing four furlongs in 51.22 seconds on the Oklahoma training track Monday morning.
Trainer Arnaud Delacour said No Dozing had an easier work to build on last week's impressive bullet five-furlong breeze in 59.68 seconds that was the fastest of a group of 23 on August 13.
"It was just an easy breeze, he had a pretty [intense] one last week, and we were happy with that," Delacour said. "We just wanted him to stretch his legs today and we're very happy with that. If he comes back well, I think everything is in good order for the Forego."
No Dozing has already posted a win at the Saratoga meet, registering a three-quarter length victory in an optional claimer on July 21. His victory in the seven-furlong race, the same distance as the Forego, earned the 4-year-old Union Rags gelding a personal-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure.
As a sophomore, No Dozing earned graded stakes placing twice, finishing third in the Grade 3 Lexington on April 15 and second in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs. After a nearly eight-month layoff, No Dozing's return has set him up for the Forego, a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in November at Churchill.
"That race last time was pretty tough, with [fellow Forego contender] Awesome Slew and some nice horses in there, it helped him run in that rhythm, because they were going pretty quick," Delacour said. "His finish was very encouraging to me."
C Z Rocket sets sights on 'class test' in Grade 1 Forego
Frank Fletcher Racing's C Z Rocket turned in his final breeze ahead of Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 Forego for older sprinters on the Travers undercard. Trained by Al Stall, Jr., the 4-year-old City Zip colt worked four furlongs in 49.14 seconds over Saratoga's Oklahoma training track.
"We wanted to give him a final blowout before the race," said Stall. "We are going to focus on him this week going into the Forego. This is going to be a class test for him."
For the Forego, C Z Rocket is expected to compete against two-time Grade 1 winner City of Light, multiple graded stakes winning sprinter American Anthem, who finished third in last year's Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial, recent Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship winner Limousine Liberal, Whitmore, Awesome Slew, Heartwood, No Dozing and Warrior's Club.
C Z Rocket returns to Saratoga where he won his debut with a last-to-first move by two lengths, then followed that with a pair of allowance wins by again coming off the pace and being closer to the pace. He ended his 3-year-old season with a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita.
"After the Malibu, we thought it was time to regroup," Stall said. "He has developed nicely and has proven to be versatile with his running style."
In two starts this year at Churchill Downs, C Z Rocket was third to American Anthem in an allowance race and won the Kelly's Landing Stakes by four lengths.
About the Forego Stakes
Named after the Hall of Fame champion Forego, the Forego has been run at Saratoga since 1980. Originally run at one-mile, it switched to seven furlongs in 1982 and has stayed at that distance other than three years between 200 and 2002.
A "Win and You're In" race for the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint, the race has been won by greats such as Fappiano, Groovy (twice), Rubiano, Orientate, Midnight Lute, Jackson Bend and Private Zone.