Friday, August 29, 2008
LUCKY ISLAND SCARES NO ONE OUT OF FOREGO
Saturday’s 29th running of the Grade 1, $250,000 Forego was to have been a battle royal between Benny the Bull and Lucky Island, who would have put their respective five- and four-race win streaks on the line in this seven-furlong event that is the last major sprint on Saratoga Race Course’s 2008 calendar.
Wednesday, it was announced that a chip was discovered in Benny the Bull’s right-front ankle, essentially ending his racing career. Yet, his defection has not thinned the field and now Lucky Island will face nine others in the Forego. The Forego, always an entertaining race, figures to get the crowd warmed up for the day’s biggest race, the 55th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward and the Saratoga debut of 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin (MSG; 5:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. Eastern).
He is not the only hot horse entered here. Eternal Star is on a three-race winning streak, while Real Estate and Ferocious Fires, both victors at Saratoga, and Midwest invader Greeley’s Conquest have each won two in a row.
But Lucky Island is the reigning king of the hill.
“We didn’t want a lot of horses in the Forego because of traffic issues, but Lucky Island is the horse to beat,” McLaughlin said. “We’ve been targeting this race since July 4th. He’s always been a nice horse and he is training great up here.”
In his previous races, Lucky Island was able to rate off horses. His ability to handle an off-track and to be a front-runner merely re-affirmed McLaughlin’s confidence in this 4-year-old Lucky Roberto colt.
“His break-out race was when he won the (Grade 3) Bold Ruler at Belmont,” McLaughlin said. “He had won two in a row going into that race, but that was a big step going from a `two other than’ into a graded stakes. The Tom Fool just showed that he is a very versatile horse and he has continued to train as well up here as he has trained all year.”
Alan Garcia, who is on a roll himself and battling for the leading jockey title in the final days of this meet, has the mount from post 8.
As well known as Lucky Island is, not much is known about Greeley’s Conquest, who won the Prairie Meadows Sprint on August 2. Trained by Gary Thomas, the 4-year-old Mr. Greeley colt will be making his New York debut in the Forego. He earned his way to the Spa, opening his 2008 campaign with a fifth-place finish on the turf and then winning his next two starts.
“This is my first trip to Saratoga, too,” said Thomas, who was scheduled to arrive on Friday with Greeley’s Conquest. “The old colt had some foot problems that we got cleared up. We couldn’t find any other spot for him, so we tried him on the grass. We took him on the road and he won those small stakes, so we figured we might as well take a shot at Saratoga while he’s good.”
Jorge Chavez has the mount on Greeley’s Conquest, who carried 124 pounds in his last victory. He gets in with 117 pounds for the Forego.
Zayat Stable has a coupled entry here with Premium Wine and Forefathers.
Premium Wine is a hard-hitter, who lost Aqueduct’s Grade 1 Carter Handicap to Bustin Stones by three-quarters of a length. Premium Wine is trained by Anthony Dutrow, who won the muddy Troy here on August 11 with Ferocious Fires.
Hall of Famer Bill Mott trains Forefathers, who is making his first start since a dominant win at a mile at Belmont Park on June 7. He will get a nine-pound break from Lucky Island and will carry 112 pounds.
Tasteyville held second against Lucky Island in the Tom Fool, finishing a length ahead of Premium Wine.
First Defence won the Grade 3 Jaipur on turf at Belmont and then returned to the dirt at Saratoga to run second to Lucky Island’s stablemate, Abraaj, in the Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt. He’ll carry 119 pounds and break from the rail on Saturday.
Eternal Star, trained by Michael Trombetta, has won his last two starts by a neck and a nose. That neck win came on August 9th here in the six-furlong James Marvin against Bold Start, who completes the Forego field.
The field for Saturday’s Grade 1 Forego:
PP. HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT.
1. First Defence Bobby Frankel Channing Hill 119
2a. Forefathers Bill Mott Edgar Prado 112
3. Eternal Star Michael Trombetta John Velazquez 117
4. Bold Start Ken McPeek Robby Albarado 117
5. Ferocious Fires Anthony Dutrow Cornelio Velasquez 117
6a. Premium Wine Anthony Dutrow Julien Leparoux 117
7. Real Estate Bruce Levine Eibar Coa 117
8. Lucky Island (ARG) Kiaran McLaughlin Alan Garcia 121
9. Greeley’s Conquest Gary Thomas Jorge Chavez 117
10. Tasteyville Pat Kelly Mike Luzzi 117
Read more articles in the Saratoga category.