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Breeders Cup 2015
Kentucky Derby 2017

Clearly Now Fresh and Ready for Forego


After Clearly Now registered a dominant victory in the Grade 3 Belmont Sprint Championship on July 5, trainer Brian Lynch patiently waited for the opportunity to run the 4-year-old back at seven furlongs. On Saturday, Clearly Now will get his chance when he heads a group of 10 sprinters entered in the Grade 1, $500,000 Forego for 3-year-olds and up.


The Forego, a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're in Race" in the Sprint division, will be shown live on the NBC Sports Network on a broadcast that runs from 6-7 p.m. EDT.


All three of Clearly Now's graded stakes wins have come at seven furlongs, with the Up Hill Stable color-bearer having taken the Grade 3 Swale and Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap in 2013 prior to his victory in the Belmont Sprint Championship.


In the latter, Clearly Now's fourth start of 2014, the colt stalked the pace in fourth place before swinging out and exploding to the front at the top of the stretch, powering away to a 6 ¼-length triumph. His final time of 1:19.96 improved the track record by 0.21 seconds.


With the Forego also being a seven-furlong race, Lynch decided to bypass the Saratoga's Grade 1, six-furlong Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on August 2. The Belmont Sprint Championship runner-up, Palace, returned to win the Vanderbilt and is entered in the Forego.


"The Forego was the obvious spot," said Lynch, who has been training Clearly Now from his base at Woodbine Racetrack. "It's his ideal distance, it's a Grade 1, and he deserves a chance. He ran a high enough Beyer Speed Figure and low enough Ragozin number [in the Belmont Sprint Championship] that I wanted to make sure he had enough time between races."


Lynch hopes Clearly Now's trip in the Forego will be similar to the one he had in July at Belmont.


"There should be enough speed to get a nice sort of stalking trip," Lynch said.


In three other starts this year, Clearly Now was third in both the Grade 1 Carter Handicap in April at Aqueduct Racetrack and Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes in May at seven furlongs before finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at one mile in June at Belmont.


Jose Lezcano will ride Clearly Now from post position 8.


Palace, claimed for $20,000 in October 2012 by trainer Linda Rice and owner Antonino Miuccio, won the Grade 2, six-furlong True North Handicap by three-quarters of a length in June at Belmont before finishing second in the Belmont Sprint Championship. Cutting back to six furlongs for the Vanderbilt, he pressed the pace and wore down Happy My Way to prevail by one length.


In his only other start at seven furlongs on the dirt, Palace was fourth in the Grade 2 General George Handicap in February at Laurel Park.


Given Palace's record at six furlongs (six wins in 11 starts), trainer Linda Rice wants to evaluate the Forego field before making a final decision on whether the 5-year-old will compete on Saturday.


"We want to look at the race; we're not positive we're going to run," said Rice. "We might wait for the Vosburgh [Grade 1, six furlongs, September 27, Belmont Park] and use that as our Breeders' Cup prep. We know [the Forego is] Clearly Now's best distance, but it may not be the best distance for us."


Cornelio Velasquez was named to ride Palace, who drew post 6.


In contrast to Rice, George Weaver, trainer of Vanderbilt third-place finisher Falling Sky, believes the seven-furlong distance will help his Forego entrant.


Falling Sky, beaten 3 ½ lengths in the Vanderbilt, entered the race off a half-length win in the seven-furlong Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap in June at Parx Racing. In February, he took the Grade 3, seven-furlong Gulfstream Park Sprint before finishing seventh in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in March and 10th in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs.


"He doesn't have a problem with the distance; that's what helps [our chances in the Forego]," said Weaver. "At seven furlongs, he'll be capable of running a better performance. When I ran at six furlongs last time, I believed that if he was able to do it over and over again that he'd handle it better and better. I don't think [six furlongs] is a distance he can't necessarily handle, but we are happy to be going back to seven furlongs."


Falling Sky will have the services of Hall of Famer Edgar Prado from post 7.


Vyjack and Capo Bastone, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Vanderbilt, also were entered back in the Forego.


Rudy Rodriguez trains Vyjack, winner of the 2013 Grade 3 Gotham, for David Wilkenfeld's Pick Six Racing. Vyjack will leave from post 3 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons.


Capo Bastone is trained by Todd Pletcher for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. Hall of Famer John Velazquez has the call from post 1.


Weekend Hideway and Big Business, the top two finishers from the 6 ½-furlong John Morrissey for New York-breds on August 15, will be reunited in the Forego.


In the Morrissey, Weekend Hideaway dictated the pace to win by two lengths, with Big Business rallying from fifth to nab second in a four-way blanket finish.


The Forego field also includes Zee Bros, second in an off-the-turf optional claimer on August 13; Sensation Slam, winner of the Diablo overnight stakes in May at Belmont and fourth in the Teddy Drone on July 27 at Monmouth Park; and Confrontation, winner of two straight optional claimers, including a 2 ¾-length score on August 8 at the Spa.


Source: NYRA/Jon Forbes 


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