Pirate's Punch taking trainer Forster to new heights

Pirate's Punch taking trainer Forster to new heights
Photo: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO.

Nestled five miles from Churchill Downs, trainer Grant Forster is eagerly preparing for the biggest race of his career at Trackside Louisville where Gulliver Racing, Craig Drager and Dan Legan’s five-time winner Pirate’s Punch will tackle a likely full field of competitors in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 7 at Keeneland.

“Sort of like every horse trainer, I’m just holding my breath until we get there,” Forster said. “It’s been a great ride so far with this horse and the (Dirt Mile) is shaping up to be a really competitive. It’ll be a tough field but we’re glad to be in it.”

Pirate’s Punch had a unique two-race stand over the summer when Forster shipped the Shanghai Bobby gelding to Monmouth Park to compete in the $200,000 Philip Iselin Stakes (G3) and one month later returned for the $155,000 Salvator Mile (G3). In the Philip Iselin, the gutsy Pirate’s Punch finished a half-length in front of Warrior’s Charge but was subsequently disqualified and placed second following a stewards’ inquiry and objection lodged by the runner-up finisher’s jockey Paco Lopez.

Forster would return to Monmouth for redemption in the Salvator Mile where Pirate’s Punch scored a convincing two-length score and sealed his likely starting gate position in the Dirt Mile.

In the Breeders’ Cup, East Coast-based jockey Jorge Vargas Jr., who rode Pirate’s Punch in each of his two starts at Monmouth, will ship to Kentucky to ride in the Breeders’ Cup. The 26-year-old Vargas, whose grandfather and father both trained horses in his native Puerto Rico, is named to ride Shimmering (IRE) for trainer Graham Motion on Wednesday at Churchill Downs.

“He’s rode Pirate’s Punch perfectly in his last two starts, so why not continue to use him for the Breeders’ Cup,” Forster said. “He’s coming to Kentucky early and hopes to ride a few at Churchill before the Breeders’ Cup.”

Starting on Friday, there will be a special training period from 7:30-7:45 a.m. for Breeders’ Cup contenders. The special training session is scheduled to run through Wednesday, Nov. 4.

 

2020 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1)

*Rating is based on HRN fan votes, which rank the Top Active Horses in training.
RankSilksHorse / SireRatingTrainer / JockeyLast StartStatus
 Vekoma
Candy Ride
8.10
G. Weaver
1st, 2020 Metropolitan (G1) 
Possible
 Art Collector
Bernardini
7.50
T. Drury
4th, 2020 Preakness Stakes (G1) 
Probable
 Sharp Samurai
First Samurai
7.30
M. Glatt
2nd, 2020 City of Hope Mile (G2) 
Possible
 Mind Control
Stay Thirsty
7.28
G. Sacco
3rd, 2020 Mr. Prospector (LS) 
Possible
 War of Will
War Front
7.20
M. Casse
3rd, 2020 Woodbine Mile (G1) 
Probable
 Mr. Money
Goldencents
7.08
W. Calhoun
1st, 2020 Ack Ack (G3)
Probable
 Silver Dust
Tapit
7.04
W. Calhoun
3rd, 2020 Alysheba (G2) 
Probable
 Midcourt
Midnight Lute
6.94
J. Shirreffs
3rd, 2020 Awesome Again (G1) 
Possible
 True Timber
Mineshaft
6.92
J. Sisterson
4th, 2020 Vosburgh (G2) 
Probable
 Complexity
Maclean's Music
6.81
C. Brown
1st, 2020 Kelso Handicap (G2) 
Possible
 Hog Creek Hustle
Overanalyze
6.60
V. Foley
11th, 2020 Kentucky Downs Preview Tourist Mile S. (LS)
Possible
 Sleepy Eyes Todd
Paddy O'Prado
6.56

5th, 2020 Awesome Again (G1) 
Possible
 Mr Freeze
To Honor and Serve
6.49
D. Romans
1st, 2020 Fayette Stakes (G2) 
Probable
 Knicks Go
Paynter
6.31
B. Cox
1st, Kee AlwOC (10/4/2020-R3)
Probable
 Rushie
Liam's Map
6.04
M. McCarthy
1st, 2020 Pat Day Mile (G2) 
Probable
 Harpers First Ride
Paynter
5.59

2nd, 2020 Maryland Million Classic (RS)
Possible
 Pirate's Punch
Shanghai Bobby
5.34
G. Forster
1st, 2020 Salvator Mile (G3) 
Probable
 Jesus' Team
Tapiture
5.27
J. D'Angelo
3rd, 2020 Preakness Stakes (G1) 
Probable
 Aurelius Maximus
Pioneerof the Nile
4.91
C. Brown
2nd, 2020 Fayette Stakes (G2) 
Possible
 Midnight Sands
Speightstown
4.79
B. Walsh
7th, 2020 Phoenix (G2) 
Possible
 Bourbon Calling
Dialed In
4.45
I. Wilkes
2nd, 2020 Ack Ack (G3)
Possible
 Jasper Prince
Violence
H. Mori
Possible
 Pingxiang
Speightstown
H. Mori
10th, 2020 Marguerite Stakes (LS)
Possible

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