Wheeled back on only 10 days of rest, Edmund Gann's Midas Eyes put away favored Strong Hope inside the final furlong and went on to a powerful victory in the $250,000 Forego Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course Saturday.
Ridden by Edgar Prado, who won his sixth grade I race during the Saratoga meeting, Midas Eyes was too much for Strong Hope, the 9-5 choice who tired after pressing a strong pace in the seven-furlong test. Clock Stopper came on for second, but never challenged the winner, who was 1 3/4 lengths clear at the wire while under moderate urging. Gygistar rallied mildly to nose Strong Hope for third. The final time was 1:22 1/5.
Midas Eyes, who captured his first stakes since the 2003 Derby Trial (gr. III), recorded his first grade I win. He had been out of action for more than six months when he returned Aug. 25 with a 5 3/4-length tally against third-level allowance foes at Saratoga.
The quick turnaround was an unusual move for trainer Bobby Frankel, who prefers to give his horses plenty of rest between starts. But Midas Eyes was so impressive in his comeback, the trainer felt the 4-year-old Florida-bred son of Touch Gold
could handle it.
"I've got to give credit to my man (assistant) Jose Cuevas," Frankel said. "He's the one who kept on telling me how good he's doing and how sound he was. I said, `If he's sound, we have to take a shot.' I was concerned about the 10 days, but obviously, he's a good horse. I was guessing, just like everyone else, how he would react. And he reacted the right way.
"We were watching how the track was playing all day. Last week, there was an inside bias. I think they overcompensated a little bit, and the outside bias was today. I told Edgar (Prado, jockey) to just break sharp and get outside. And he did a perfect job today. I knew after he went back to the track for two or three days that he was going to run. It's a grade I and you have to take a chance at those."
Frankel, who earned his second stakes win of the Saratoga meeting, earned a repeat in the Forego. He won the race with Aldebaran in 2003.
Frankel already has a barn full of top sprinters, including Badge of Silver, Ghostzapper and Cajun Beat.
"I have a lot of nice, fast horses and I have to keep them separated," he said. "I'll find a spot for him."
The bay colt broke well and was soon angled to the outside as Yessirgeneralsir tussled for the early advantage over a keen Strong Hope, who was ridden by John Velazquez.
Those three soon separated from the remainder of the nine-horse field and were eight lengths clear of the rest as they reached the turn. Yessirgeneralsir clicked off an opening quarter of :22 1/5 and the half in :44 4/5, but was tiring as the field came out of the turn.
Midas Eyes edged up on the outside while three wide on the turn and engaged Strong Hope. The two fought to the furlong pole before Midas Eyes began to pull away. In the final sixteenth, it was clear that Strong Hope was losing his action.
"He got a little tired," said Velazquez. "I don't know what he saw inside the eighth-pole. I thought he was going to hold on for second, but then he just lost his momentum. I thought he could have finished second the way he was running, but he didn't."
Clock Stopper, ridden by Pat Day, came on strong but ran out of room without making a serious challenge.
"They had plenty of pace. Pat said he just couldn't get the horse into the race the first three-sixteenths of a mile," said trainer Dallas Stewart. "It looked like he was just going to stay back there, but approaching the half-mile pole, he started to pick it up a little bit. For some reason, he just got himself too far back."
Midas Eyes improved his record to 5-3-1 in just 11 starts. He improved his career bankroll to $556,528. He has won both of his starts at Saratoga.
Bred by Jacks or Better Farm Inc., Midas Eyes is out of the dam Bayou Plans (Bayou Hebert).
The winner paid $9.20, $4.30 and $3. Clock Stopper returned $3.40 and $2.70. Gygistar, who was ridden by Pablo Fragoso, was $4.80 to show. The exacta was worth $32.
Unforgettable Max was two lengths behind Strong Hope in fifth with Gold Dollar, A Huevo, Yessirgeneralsir and Eavesdropper well behind. Watchem Smokey, who was coupled with Midas Eyes, and Toccet, who ran uncoupled, were both scratched by Frankel.