Forener lived up to billing Saturday with an impressive victory in his first start as a 3-year-old at Emerald Downs.
With Gallyn Mitchell riding, Forener shook off double stakes winner Koala Beach in upper stretch and edged clear for a 1 ¾-length victory in the $18,0000 allowance feature for 3-year-olds.
Forener ran 5 ½ furlongs in 1:03 on a fast track and paid $2.80 and $2.40. The Kentucky-bred gelding by Lost Soldier is now 3-for-3 with earnings of $29,700 for trainer Vann Belvoir and owners Swag Stables and Appassionato Stables.
Clear to Canada, Mario Gutierrez riding, rallied from last to finish second, and paid $4.40 for place. Rescue Plan was third and Koala Beach finished fourth and last.
Boundtogetbusy and Saintly I Ain’t were scratched earlier in the day.
Breaking from the rail, Forener set a pressured pace from the inside, as Koala Beach and jockey Ricky Frazier pushed the winner through fractions of 22 1/5 and 45 1/5. Forener kicked clear into the lane, drew well clear past mid-strech after five furlongs in 57, and appeared to have something left.
“What a pleasure to ride a horse like (Forener),” said Mitchell, noting it was Forener’s first start since last July. “It makes my job easy.”
The $50,000 Auburn Handicap on May 23 is the first major race for sophomores this season, and the 6 ½-furlong dash could mark the stakes debut for Forener. Hollywood Harbor, the Top Juvenile of 2009, has yet to run in 2010.
NOTES: Hall-of-Fame trainer Jim Penney continued his torrid pace with back-to-back wins in the third and fourth races by Private Fortune ($9) and Denkenesh ($33). Penney is 5-for-8 at the meet and 8-for-11 in 2010. He ranks third all-time at Emerald Downs with 463 wins, just four behind third place Howard Belvoir…Congratulations to the grand dame of Emerald Downs, Lorna Brown, as her 4-year-old Silver Mench ($9.40) scored in the fifth race. The gray gelding gave jockey Matt Hagerty his first win of the meet…Francisco Duran made it two wins in two days as the newcomer steered Denkenesh to the upset in the fourth…Seeking Ema, stakes-placed three times last season as a 3-year-old maiden, finished third as part of the heavily-favored Northwest Farms entry in the third. In 10 starts, the kin to the great Ema Bovary has four seconds, four thirds and earnings of $43,042…The sixth race produced one of the most exciting finishes of the young meet as Pete’s Glory Girl ($6.60) and Ricky Frazier prevailed by a nose over both Button Em Up and Dolly Varten, who dead-heated for place…Inoel Beato book-ended the card, winning the first on Mobius ($16.60) and the last aboard Smoken West ($5.40), for his second double in five days…The second week of racing wraps up Sunday with first post at 2 p.m.