In addition to his weekly Wednesday column assessing the quality of the previous weekend’s graded stakes races, each Friday GradedStakesRaces.com founder Keith Pettyjohn will provide a runner listed at 10-1 or greater to use in multiple pool wagers
By Keith Pettyjohn — This week we turn our attention to the $300,000 Grade 1 Forego Stakes at Saratoga. It’s a full-field of 11 in this major seven furlong event with a rich history.
This year’s renewal is a high quality field with four of the 11 eclipsing the million-dollar mark in lifetime earnings, winning most of it the hard way.
Unlike many high quality American sprint stakes, this a group that despite its quality lacks a tremendous amount of early speed. Consequently, this race rates to be highly contentious throughout.
The horse I’ll be keying in exotics is the number #3 horse, Lexitonian, 10-1 on the morning line. Let’s take a close look at his last four starts:
On October 4, 2019 he ran the race of his life in the Grade 2 Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland, in which he took the lead in deep stretch before yielding to finish third behind Engage and second-place finisher Whitmore, a key rival and early Forego favorite.
For that effort, he earned a Class-Based Performance Rating of 100. It was the first time he achieved the triple-digit mark.
But from there he went to the sidelines for six months before returning in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park, in which he was soundly defeated by the winner and the major Forego player, Whitmore.
Coming back to the races after such a layoff and trying to take on that kind of competition is a very difficult task. So let’s give him a “pass” for that effort.
Forty-one days later, however, he won a classified allowance race at Churchill Downs beating the likes of Hog Creek Hustle, a Graded Stakes winner.
His most recent start came in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar, August 1. After settling at the back of the pack, he made a fast closing effort off a rapid pace to finish second, beaten by a nose but earning a new lifetime top Performance Rating of 101.
To have him properly prepared for this race, trainer Jack Sisterson gave him two four-furlong maintenance works at Keeneland spaced just six days apart. He’s sharp and ready to go.
In addition to the very solid Performance Ratings, he seems to have greatly matured from late in his 3-year old season until now.
Lexitonian has shown that he’s versatile, coming from far back in the pack like he did at Santa Anita or he can settle just off of the early pace, his best game according to Sisterton.
Finally, the seven furlong distance should be well to his liking. We’re looking for a big effort with a vertical payout to match.