by NYRA Press Release
August 24, 2017
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The Grade 1, $600,000 Forego will be the midway point of seven graded stakes races on the Travers Day program as a field of 10 will run seven furlongs hoping to gain a berth to Del Mar in early November as part of the "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup Challenge Series for the Grade 1, $1 million Sprint November 4 at Del Mar.
Last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Drefong shipped in from the west coast as part of a three horse contingent set on returning to California with winning results for trainer Bob Baffert. The son of Gio Ponti needs to redeem himself after ducking in and dropping Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith shortly after the start in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar on July 29, which was his 2017 debut. Unlike his start from the rail that day, he'll now break from post 4, and use the Forego as a prep to try and stamp his ticket to this year's Breeders Cup.
"Well it's better than post one!" Baffert said. "He's doing well, he shipped well. That last one was such a disaster, but if it wasn't for that maybe he wouldn't up there.
Following his sluggish debut when he finished fifth, the speedy Drefong rattled off three straight victories before last year's win in the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga en route to his Breeders' Cup victory. Baffert believes his front-running colt will behave this time around, and hopes for a repeat of last year's performance.
"He ran well there last year, but he just needs to show up. I just worry about that. They always need to show up. If they don't show up it doesn't matter where they draw. Hopefully he'll run like he did last year, and we'll be fine."
Drefong will break from post 4, and reunites with jockey Mike Smith.
One foe set to try and catch Drefong in the late stages is multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Your Biscuits, who returns to make his fourth start of the year after his 3 ½ length victory in the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint on the Stars and Stripes Day program. His recent morning works were not like his usual style. The usual competitive nature that became commonplace with "Biscuits" regularly seen by trainer Chad Summers and his staff was suddenly absent. A change in surroundings brought the earner of $2,207,166 back to his regular form, and now he is back on his game.
"Maybe two weeks ago I don't know if I would've said that," Summers said. "He was not acting like himself. I think it was the barn where he was stabled in. We've since rectified that. It was non-stop noise. It was never a physical issue it was just the way he was acting. When a horse breezes a minute, and comes home in 23, most people say he worked great, but just knowing him like we know him, I've had the horse since he was a yearling, I'm training him now, but I know the horse very, very well, and he wasn't himself. From what we've seen since he moved to the other barn to how he breezed the other day at Oklahoma, to how he galloped this morning, he's doing well. He acts like a horse, grazes in the same spot Wise Dan was grazing every day, after he trains a half hour, he grazes in the morning, we take him out he grazes in the afternoon in between races, he's very, very happy over there."
The son of Posse's victory erased any doubt or concern about his return from Dubai where he drew clear to beat 13 others in the Grade 1, $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 25. The New York-bred who began his graded stakes success with a win in the Grade 2 Amsterdam before finishing third behind Drefong in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Sprint added a victory in the Grade 1 Malibu beating Sharp Azteca then missed by a neck to Unified in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint.
To Summers, Mind Your Biscuits resembles comedian Rodney Dangerfield, in that he doesn't get respect, but he says his colt goes out and proves himself every time.
"Sometimes, I think we felt that going into the Breeders' Cup, he really didn't get respect. He got beat a length and a quarter, and made up 8 lengths in the stretch, and if you look at the charts, nobody closed like that, that Saturday. We made up the most lengths in the stretch than anybody.
"We went to the Malibu, and there were some doubters. If you think about that race, I think three of the top 10 horses this year were in that race, and we won that race being in California for a month. Going to Dubai I think we were fancied quite a bit, then we got the outside post, and they were like it's a death sentence. He did what he did, then it was the dreaded Dubai bounce, and when you go to that level and you're in the Dubai bounce, and you overcome the bounce?
"We were optimistic, and he was training well, but you're never really sure. Then he wins, so we're like ok now he's there, but even at that point, a lot of people were picking Unified over us in that race, and now we come to this race, and now Drefong is here. Look, he's the reigning champion, he's beat us twice, he won the King's Bishop here last year, so obviously could he be the horse to beat? Sure. It's a bigger field than I thought it would be. With us and Drefong I thought it would be a six or seven horse field. They're solid horses. A lot of horses that deserve a shot to run in a grade one are in the Forego. This is a race we've been targeting since last year, since the Breeders Cup. We're coming into it obviously with hurdles in the road, but were' coming into it the way we want, and we wouldn't trade places with anybody."
Mind Your Biscuits will break from post 8, and will be ridden by Joel Rosario.
Live Oak Plantation's Awesome Slew will look to build off his second place finish to Mind Your Biscuits in the Belmont Sprint. The colt by Awesome Again rallied five wide to settle 3 ½ lengths back, and returns to Saratoga two years after his fourth place finish in the Grade 3 Sanford, his second career start. With victories in the Grade 3 Smarty Jones, and the Grade 3 Commonwealth, he is still in search of his first Grade 1 victory after finishing sixth in the 2016 Haskell, and fourth in this year's Metropolitan Handicap.
Awesome Slew will break from post 5, and will be joined by Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez, who returns to ride after jumping aboard for the first time in the Belmont Sprint.
Others entered for the Forego are Irish-bred Ross from post 1 for trainer Peter Schiergen and jockey Andrasch Starke, Tom's Ready from post 2 for trainer Dallas Stewart, and jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr., Divining Rod from post 3 for trainer Arnaud Delacour and jockey Javier Castellano, Tale of S'avall from post 6 for trainer Barclay Tagg and jockey Manuel Franco, Tommy Macho from post 7 for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Luis Saez, and Very Very Stella from post 9 for trainer Jose Noda-Fernandez and jockey Carlos Hernandez.