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Godolphin Runners Get Busy

With Regal Ransom, Bank Merger, Buffum, Girolamo, and Vineyard Haven in the barn, Godolphin Racing will be well represented in upcoming stakes races at eight and fewer furlongs. Now they just have to decide where they’ll spot each member of the talented group.


Rick Mettee, assistant to Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor, said both Regal Ransom and Bank Merger are under consideration for the seven-furlong, Grade 1 Forego on September 3, the final Saturday of the Saratoga meeting.


Regal Ransom, winner of the 2009 Group 2 UAE Derby and Grade 2 Super Derby, was most recently 11th in Churchill Downs’ Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 18, all at 1 1/8 miles. He made one sprint start in 2011, finishing second to Grade 1 winner Capt. Candyman Can in the Sir Shackleton at Gulfstream Park in April.


“We’ll see how tough [the Forego] comes up,” said Mettee. “We know it will be a good race.”


Winner of last year’s Gallant Bob at Parx Racing after finishing second in the Grade 1 Foxwoods King’s Bishop, Bank Merger could return in the Forego after finishing seventh in Saratoga ’s Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at six furlongs on August 7.


“Bank Merger was a little disappointing the other day,” said Mettee. “We didn’t think he’d win, but he was off the bridle pretty early in that race. Maybe it was just the kickback. [Jockey] Julien [Leparoux] thought he’d be a lot better at seven than six, so we might just give him another chance in the Forego.”


After finishing fifth in the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas , Buffum returned to the United States where he finished fourth in the Grade 3 Bay Shore in April at Aqueduct Racetrack before his 10-length romp in an entry-level Saratoga allowance at seven furlongs on August 7.


“He was ready to run in the World Cup, but he didn’t get into the UAE Derby,” said Mettee. That’s why we ran right off the plane, and that race turned into a pretty tough race. We didn’t realize at the time how tough it was. [Jockey] David [Cohen] said he’d run anywhere from six furlongs to a mile. It’s just that seven furlongs is that nice, intermediate distance.”


Despite Buffum’s affinity for seven furlongs, the 3-year-old son of Bernardini will bypass the Grade 1 Foxwoods King’s Bishop on August 27, Travers Day.


“Saeed and Sheikh Mohammed spoke, and they definitely did not want to bring him back in a race like the [Foxwoods] King’s Bishop,” said Mettee. “We didn’t even nominate him for that – we didn’t want to be tempted. We just kind of thought it’d be throwing him off the deep end. We’ll look for something later at Belmont .”


Godolphin is biding its time with Grade 1 winning 5-year-olds Girolamo and Vineyard Haven, who haven’t raced since they respectively finished third and seventh in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap in November at Aqueduct.


“Vineyard Haven might be a little bit in front of Girolamo,” said Mettee. “They’re both probably in the same boat. We kind of want to keep the two apart. There’s a race like the Fall Highweight [Handicap Grade 3, six furlongs, Aqueduct Racetrack, November 24], but Vineyard Haven will probably be ready to run before that. He wasn’t going to be ready to run in races like the Forego. The Vosburgh [Grade 1, six furlongs, Belmont Park , October 1] is probably too tough of a comeback race. There’s no hurry to bring him back. This will probably be his last year of racing, so we’ll just try to get a couple of nice spots for him.”


Godolphin has a better idea where Girolamo will make his return.


“Girolamo, we’ll probably go Bold Ruler [Grade 3, seven furlongs, Belmont Park , October 29] with him. That’d be a good comeback race for him, and then probably the Cigar Mile [Handicap Grade 1, Aqueduct Racetrack, November 26].”




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