Stables' Fast Bullet and Justin Phillip, both coming off the biggest
wins of their careers, comprise a formidable coupled entry that was
installed as the even-money morning-line favorite for the Grade 1,
$500,000 Forego on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
seven-furlong Forego for 3-year-olds and up is one of three graded
stakes on Saturday's card and will be shown live on the NBC Sports
Network. Post time for the Forego, race 9, is scheduled for 5:12 p.m.
June 8, Fast Bullet and Justin Phillip finished 1-2 in Belmont Park's
Grade 2 RTN True North Handicap. Fast Bullet established a clear lead at
the start and repulsed a bid from Justin Phillip, who stalked the pace.
RTN True North was the first graded stakes win for Fast Bullet, who has
four wins in five starts. His lone loss was a sixth in last year's
Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Phillip has made one start since the RTN True North, pulling away in
the stretch to prevail by two lengths and earn his first Grade 1 victory
in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on August 4 at the Spa.
Bullet, unraced since the RTN True North, had trained exclusively with
Bob Baffert in California before being transferred to another Hall of
Fame trainer, D. Wayne Lukas. Fast Bullet arrived at Lukas' Saratoga
barn on August 20.
a beautiful horse, and his race record speaks for itself," said Lukas,
who won the Grade 1 Travers on Saturday with Will Take Charge. "Whatever
he does, I'm going to have very little influence on it. Mr. [Ahmed]
Zayat wants to run, and [winning a Grade 1] would be a big boost to his
Luis Saez will ride Fast Bullet for the first time in Forego. The 5-year-old son of Speightstown drew post position 6.
Fast Bullet is the least-experienced Forego entrant, Justin Phillip has
made 29 starts, more than any other horse in the field besides Jackson
Bend (31 starts). Justin Phillip is a three-time graded stakes winner,
having taken the 2011 Grade 2 Woody Stephens at Belmont and this year's
Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park for trainer Steve
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has the assignment aboard Justin Phillip from post 7.
Bullet and Justin Phillip's competition could include Michael Dubb and
Gary Aisquith's Sage Valley, who won the Grade 3 James Marvin over the
Forego's course and distance on July 19. Sage Valley has won five of his
past six starts, including the Mr. Nasty overnight stakes last November
at Aqueduct Racetrack and the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap in May.
He was fifth in the RTN True North.
always liked him a lot," said trainer Rudy Rodriguez. "I don't think he
needs the lead. I think he'll be able to relax. In [the RTN True
North], he kind of slipped leaving the gate, and I think we brought him
back a little too quick [off his win in the Maryland Sprint Handicap].
We've given him some time, and we know he likes Saratoga. He has been
training here very, very well."
Rodriguez said he is unsure whether Sage Valley will compete in the Forego.
"We'll take a look at the race," said Rodriguez. The horse is here and is ready to run."
Cornelio Velasquez was named to ride Sage Valley, who drew post 3 and was tabbed as the 7-2 second choice on the morning line.
will switch from turf to dirt and cut back from two turns to one for
the Forego off a third behind Wise Dan and King Kreesa in the Grade 2
Fourstardave Handicap on August 10 at Saratoga. The Claiborne Farm and
Adele Dilschneider homebred also was second to Wise Dan in the Grade 2
Firecracker Handicap on June 29 at Churchill Downs.
In his lone start on the dirt, Lea won an off-the-turf optional claimer by 3 ¼ lengths on June 1 at Churchill.
ran so well in that one [dirt] race," said Stall. "We like the way the
horse is training, and if you go by [Ragozin numbers], the race on dirt
was the best race in his life by many, many points."
Lea, 12-1, will depart from post 4 with Brian Hernandez, Jr. aboard.
LaPenta and Fred Brei's Jackson Bend, winner of the 2011 Forego and
seventh in this race last year for Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, will
attempt to win his first race of the year on Saturday. Now back with
trainer Stanley Gold, Jackson Bend was fifth in the Ponche Handicap and
third in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder before finishing
third in the Housebuster on August 3 at Gulfstream Park.
Groom, claimed for $35,000 by trainer David Jacobson in May, has won
two of three starts for his new connections. The Drawing Away Stable
color-bearer won the Lion Cavern overnight stakes in June at Belmont,
was third in the James Marvin, and added another score in the restricted
Kid Russell Stakes on August 12.
Snacks will take on open company after having made four straight starts
against New York-breds. He won his 2013 debut, the Shy Groom overnight
stakes, in June at Belmont and was third against four opponents in the
John Morrissey on August 1.
The field also includes Javerre and Golddigger's Boy.