Trainer John Forbes, who will saddle lightly raced 3-year-old colts Get Serious and Cable Boy for the $1-million Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) at Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack Sept. 3, discussed their chances Aug. 28 during a National Thoroughbred Racing Association media teleconference.
Forbes said the reason both colts only have four career starts thus far is due to the equine herpes virus epidemic in New Jersey at the end of last year's racing season.
"Our barn was quarantined for more than 70 days, so these colts are playing a lot of catch up," Forbes said. "They haven't been able to get the kind of seasoning and experience we would have wanted. You want it to go natural and let a horse develop a little bit slowly, but we've had to really push them to catch up."
Get Serious, who has run exclusively at Monmouth Park where he has never finished worse than third, broke his maiden at second asking, after which he ran a strong second behind First Defense in the July 14 Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stake (gr. III).
"In Get Serious' defense, he was a supplemented (to the Long Branch), so it was great to see him run that well," said Forbes, who purchased the son of City Zip for $130,000 on behalf of owners James Dinan and Jacques Moore at the 2005 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall yearling sale. The colt was consigned by breeder Morgan's Ford Farm, agent.
"He's a beautiful horse and he's pretty versatile," Forbes said. "He's more of a laid back horse than Cable Boy. He doesn't have the blazing speed, but he has got a ton of talent."
Get Serious will enter the Pennsylvania Derby off a three-length victory in a 1 1/8-mile allowance contest, which marked his first start on the grass.
Cable Boy, who has also raced only at Monmouth, had a tough time last time out in the Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I), in which he finished fifth. Forbes said the colt's performance had been affected by a case of the "thumps," or hiccups, which sometimes occur because of dehydration and interfere with a horse's ability to run.
"We're going to take that as an excuse and hope it doesn't reoccur," Forbes said. "I think (Cable Boy) is going to put in a good account (in the Pennsylvania Derby)--I don't think we overmatched him in the Haskell. Cable Boy is an extremely fast horse. He set a track record in his first start (8.32 furlongs in 1:38.78), and almost equaled it in his third start.
"He has trained well; he breezed extremely well the other morning. He's a neat horse that I think wants the 1 1/8 miles, and I think he has enough tactical speed, while at the same time he'll rate."
Cable Boy won his first three starts at Monmouth, the best of which was the June 24 Coronado's Quest Stakes. Forbes purchased the son of Jump Start for just $23,000 for Dinan and Phantom House Farm at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale. He was consigned by Ballinswood Sales, agent.
"We had liked the Jump Starts we had seen, so we made a special case to look at all the Jump Starts," Forbes said. "He's out of a stakes-winning mare (Millee Van), and his pedigree isn't that shabby--he's just one of those horses that fell through the cracks. No one showed up at the bidding ring that day."
The Pennsylvania Derby, the richest race of the year at Philly Park, returns to the local calendar after one-year absence. It was canceled last year as the track prepared to add slot machines to its grandstand.