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Two of the country's finest sprinters will go head-to-head in Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 Forego presented by Encore Boston Harbor at Saratoga Race Course.
The seven-furlong sprint over the main track is named in honor of the three-time Horse of the Year (1974-76) and four-time Champion Older Horse (1974-77). Before building a champion-caliber resume, he finished fourth behind fellow Hall of Famer Secretariat in the 1973 Kentucky Derby. The sensational Forego was a 14-time Grade 1 winner.
Race 5 at Saratoga on Saturday, August 24 - Post 1:48 PM
|1||Promises Fulfilled||5-2||Luis Saez
|2||Air Strike||15-1||Joel Rosario
|3||Mitole||4-5||Ricardo Santana, Jr.
|4||Killybegs Captain||15-1||Eric Cancel
|John Terranova II|
|5||Bon Raison||12-1||Jose Ortiz
|6||Firenze Fire||7-2||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Looking to make amends after finishing third as the heavy favorite in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt, Bill and Corrine Heiligbrodt's Mitole will attempt to add a third Grade 1 win to his resume after winning the Churchill Downs and the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap over subsequent Grade 1 Whitney winner McKinzie.
Prior to running third in the Vanderbilt, the 4-year-old Eskendreya chestnut had won seven straight races, six of which resulted in triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures. In addition to his pair of Grade 1 triumphs, he took the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 13 at Oaklawn Park, his second start off of a ten-month layoff. Last year, Mitole won a pair of stakes events in Oaklawn's Bachelor and the Chick Lang at Pimlico.
Mitole has a field-best $1,684,910 in career earnings and a record of 12-8-2-2.
Mitole is trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, who seeks his first Forego victory. Jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. will attempt his second straight win in the Forego when he guides Mitole from post 3.
Robert Baron's Promises Fulfilled was a two-time graded stakes winner at the Spa last meet when taking the Grade 3 Amsterdam and Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial and will seek to keep his perfect record at Saratoga alive when breaking from post 1.
Trained by Dale Romans, Promises Fulfilled enters the Forego off of a victory in the Grade 2 John A. Nerud at Belmont Park, where he garnered a career-best 108 Beyer.
Promises Fulfilled has put together a strong series of works over the main track at Saratoga, including a bullet on August 10 where he went five furlongs in 58.85 seconds.
"He's capable of it. I got great respect for Mitole, he's been a great horse this year so we'll have to see how he bounces back, but I think that we're moving forward," Romans said. "It should be a good race. He trains well everywhere. He doesn't have to take his racetrack with him, he's a good horse anywhere he goes. [The sprint division] is the strongest division in the country, not just with parity but with good horses."
Jockey Luis Saez, the current leading rider in stakes wins this meet, will pilot Promises Fulfilled.
Invading from the west coast is Air Strike who won the Grade 2 Triple Bend two starts back for trainer Phil D'Amato.
Owned by Madaket Stables, Slam Dunk Racing and Michael Nentwig, the son of Street Sense enters the Forego off of a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar Racetrack.
Air Strike will attempt his fourth career victory. He broke his maiden at fourth asking at Del Mar last August before defeating winners at Santa Anita a month and a half later.
Air Strike will leave from post 2 under jockey Joel Rosario.
Mr. Amore Stable's Firenze Fire will attempt to reel in a second Grade 1 victory when breaking from post 6. As a 2-year-old, the Florida-bred son of Poseidon's Warrior won the Champagne at Belmont Park and would go on to win two more graded stakes, one of which was the Grade 3 Dwyer last year at Belmont Park, where he recorded a career-best 106 Beyer.
Firenze Fire is trained by Jason Servis and will have the riding services of two-time Saratoga leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Empire State Racing's Bon Raison takes a massive jump up in class after winning the Tale of the Cat on August 9, where he equaled a 100 Beyer that he recorded four starts back when beating starter allowance company at Belmont Park. A veteran of 28 career starts, the Carlos Martin-trained Raison d'Etat bay makes his Grade 1 debut in the Forego, which will be his 14th start this year. Earlier in March, he won the Peeping Tom at Aqueduct, which was his first stakes victory.
Two-time Saratoga leading rider Jose Ortiz picks up the mount aboard Bon Raison, who breaks from post 5.
Completing the field is Curragh Stables' Killybegs Captain, who was third two starts back in his graded stakes debut for trainer John Terranova, which took place in the Grade 2 John A. Nerud at Belmont Park.
A winner of 5-of-22 starts, Killybegs Captain will break from post 4 under jockey Eric Cancel.
The Forego is slated as Race 5 on Saturday's 13-race Travers Day card which features seven stakes and six Grade 1s, including the $1.25 million Runhappy Travers; $850,000 Sword Dancer; $700,000 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti; $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina; and $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial presented by Runhappy. Rounding out the blockbuster card is the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa. First post is 1 p.m.
August 11 - Robert Baron's Promises Fulfilled remains on target for the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego Handicap presented by Encore Boston Harbor following a Saturday morning breeze over the main track at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Dale Romans, the Shackleford chestnut drilled through five furlongs over a fast main track in 58.85 the fastest of 36 recorded works at the distance.
"He worked very well, it wasn't quite as fast as I wanted but it was a good work. I would have liked to have had another fifth or two off, but it was close enough," Romans said.
Unbeaten in both starts at the Spa, Promises Fulfilled will look to build on his resume, including a victory in last year's Grade 1 Allen Jerkens and the Grade 3 Amsterdam, as well as a last-out win in the Grade 2 John Nerud at Belmont Park.
An earner of over $1.4 million, Promises Fulfilled was purchased for $37,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2016.
Following an impressive victory in Friday's Tale of the Cat, trainer Carlos Martin is considering the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego for Bon Raison, who registered a 100 Beyer from his victory in the six-furlong sprint.
"He's a real deal horse," Martin said of the son of Raison d'Etat. "We're going to nominate to the Forego. It's back a little quick but Imperial Hint won't be there so it's going to be Mitole and a few others. For that type of purse, we'll at least take a look at it."
The Tale of the Cat was a second stakes victory for Bon Raison, who won the Peeping Tom at Aqueduct Racetrack in March.
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.