Making his second start for trainer Martin Wolfson, Silverleaf Farm's Pomeroy, ridden confidently by John Velazquez, pulled away from War Front in the final furlong to win the $250,000 Forego Handicap (gr. I) in an upset at Saratoga Race Course Saturday.
The 5-year-old Boundary
horse loves Saratoga, where he won the King's Bishop (gr. I) as a 3-year-old and the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (gr. II) last year for trainer Patrick Biancone. He won the seven-furlong Forego by 2 1/4 lengths in a time of 1:23 1/5 on a fast track.
Pomeroy was coming off a second-place finish in the Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II) July 15 at Calder in his first start of the year for Wolfson. He had been off for 9 1/2 months prior to that. Pomeroy has won three of five career starts at Saratoga with two seconds.
Velazquez had Pomeroy ideally positioned on the flank of pacesetting Spanish Chestnut, taking the lead on the turn after lukewarm fractions of :22 3/5 for the first quarter-mile and :45 3/5 for the half.
War Front, who stalked the first two into the stretch on the extreme outside for Jose Santos, was ready to pounce. But after challenging as they approached the furlong marker, he fell back to hold second by a neck over 36-1 shot Friendly Island and Garrett Gomez. Silver Wagon rallied late to finish fourth.
"We just sat there and waited," Velazquez said. "The first two or three jumps out of the gate went pretty good. By the fourth jump, he was in the bridle, and I didn't have to do much with him."
Commentator, the 2005 Whitney Handicap (gr. I) winner sent off as the even-money favorite in the field of 11, tired in the lane after racing in fourth along the rail. Ridden by Eibar Coa, Commentator carried co-high weight of 121 pounds, four more than Pomeroy.
"I thought he needed the race at Calder last time," Wolfson said of Pomeroy. "I was happy that Commentator was not the horse in front of him. I was very confident off the turn."
Purchased last year, Pomeroy notched his seventh win in 17 career starts while bumping his earnings to $845,050.
"After we bought him in the fall, we took a chip out of his ankle, and I've got to believe it's really helped him," Wolfson said. "He's a tremendous animal with a beautiful confirmation. I really had only planned on running him two to three times this year, so we might train him into the (Breeders' Cup Sprint). I love shipping to Saratoga."
Sent off as the distant third choice of the public, the Kentucky-bred bay paid $14.20, $5.70, and $4.10 while topping a $69 exacta with War Front, who returned $5 and $3.80 as the second favorite. Friendly Island was $9.70 to show.
"He cut his hind leg breaking from the gate, and maybe that is why he got a little tired at the end," said Santos of War Front. "The track is playing real heavy and slow, because I think they were anticipating the rain. My horse put in a huge effort."
Mass Media was fifth, followed by Nightmare Affair, Awesome Twist, Judiths Wild Rush, Greeley's Galaxy, Commentator, and Spanish Chestnut.