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Vineyard Haven Headlines Forego

Vineyard Haven in King's Bishop

Vineyard Haven, first under the wire but disqualified to second in last year’s King’s Bishop, will have another opportunity to earn a Grade 1 victory at Saratoga Race Course when he competes in Saturday’s $250,000 Forego at seven furlongs.

 

Owned by Godolphin Stable, Vineyard Haven returned from his effort in the King’s Bishop to capture the Grade 1 De Francis Dash at Laurel and finish a close third in the Grade 1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct in the final two starts of his 3-year-old campaign. The gray son of Lido Palace has competed once in 2010, winning the James Marvin over the Forego’s course and distance on July 23.

 

“We got the comeback race we wanted, and he’s had a few good workouts since that race,” said Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

 

Vineyard Haven’s two most recent workouts both came at six furlongs, with the colt covering the distance in 1:14.71 on August 21 and in 1:12.45 on August 28.

 

“The track was somewhat heavy when he went in 1:14, and he came back and put in a better breeze when the track was quicker,” said Mettee.

 

Also representing Godolphin is Girolamo, unraced since finishing last of 12 in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race that snapped a three-race winning streak that included a victory in the Grade 2 Jerome Handicap at Belmont Park.

 

Mettee is confident that Girolamo – who has posted two victories from three starts at seven furlongs, including a four-length allowance triumph last year at the Spa – will handle the cutback in distance.

 

“He’s won at seven-eighths before, and we’re going to keep him in races on the dirt between six furlongs and a mile,” said Mettee.


Vineyard Haven and Girolamo form a coupled entry that was installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite. Alan Garcia will ride Vineyard Haven from post position 2, while Cornelio Velasquez has the call aboard Girolamo from post position 3.

 

Like Godolphin, trainer Todd Pletcher will also be represented by two horses in the Forego: 2009 Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap winner Bribon and recent allowance winner Checklist.

 

Bribon and Checklist faced each other in the Grade 2 True North Handicap on June 5, with Bribon getting the better of his stablemate when he rallied in the stretch to win by 1 ½ lengths, while Checklist tired after setting the pace to finish third.

 

Owned by Derrick Smith, Bribon has competed once since the True North, picking up the pieces to earn show honors in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on August 8.

 

“We’re hoping with Bribon that we can go to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, so if we felt like we were going to run off four weeks’ rest that we had better do it now and come into the Breeders’ Cup fresh,” said Pletcher.

 

With Bribon doing his best running from off the pace and Checklist, owned by Starlight Partners, preferring to contest the early lead, Pletcher is prepared for various pace scenarios.

 

“If there’s not a lot of speed, that could work out in Checklist’s favor, while Bribon would benefit from a fast pace scenario,” said Pletcher.

 

Bribon, the 4-1 co-second choice, drew the rail and will have the services of Garrett Gomez, while Checklist, a 15-1 outsider, will leave from post 10 under John Velazquez.


A Stevens Miles, Jr.’s Warrior’s Reward acquitted himself well in two starts over the Forego’s distance in the spring, winning the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct in April and reporting home second in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes in May. Stretched out to a mile last time out in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, the 4-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro finished sixth, with trainer Ian Wilkes accepting responsibility for the dull effort.

 

“I took him out of his game in the Met Mile,” said Wilkes. “I had him lay too close.”

 

Wilkes said Warrior’s Reward will revert to stretch-running tactics in the Forego, in which he was tabbed at 6-1. Julien Leparoux has the assignment from post 9.

 

Returning to Saratoga from trainer David Fawkes’ base at Calder Race Course in Florida is Big Drama, second to Majesticperfection in the Vanderbilt. Winner of seven stakes, including the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap two starts back, the Harold L. Queen colorbearer will break from post position 4 under Eibar Coa at 4-1 on the morning line.

 

Completing the field, from the rail out, are Here Comes Ben, who enters Saturday’s race on a three-race winning streak capped by a victory in the Kelly’s Landing at Churchill on June 25; Charitable Man, the 2009 Grade 2 Peter Pan hero who was second in a Delaware Park optional claimer on August 2 in his only start so far in 2010; Omniscient, who cuts back in distance off a score in the Majestic Light at Monmouth August 1; Starforaday, and You and I Forever.

 

The field for the Grade 1, $250,000 Forego:

Program No.

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

2

Vineyard Haven (FL)

A Garcia

124

S bin Suroor

2-1

1a

3

Girolamo (KY)

C H Velasquez

124

S bin Suroor

2-1

2

1

Bribon (FR)

G K Gomez

124

T A Pletcher

4-1

3

4

Big Drama (FL)

E Coa

124

D Fawkes

4-1

4

5

Here Comes Ben (KY)

A O Solis

124

C Lopresti

10-1

5

6

Charitable Man (VA)

R A Dominguez

124

A W Dutrow

12-1

6

7

Omniscient (KY)

C H Borel

124

S M Asmussen

12-1

7

8

Starforaday (KY)

R Maragh

124

G C Contessa

30-1

8

9

Warrior's Reward (KY)

J R Leparoux

124

I R Wilkes

6-1

9

10

Checklist (KY)

J R Velazquez

124

T A Pletcher

15-1

10

11

You and I Forever (KY)

J Castellano

124

T M Bush

20-1

 

 

 

 

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