Forever Together Last-to-First in Diana
Trained by Jon Sheppard, Forever Together picked up her second graded stakes victory and earned a berth in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf Oct. 24 at Santa Anita. The 4-year-old daughter of Belong to Me completed nine furlongs in 1:46.52 on a turf labeled 'good.' It was her first attempt at that distance.
Dynaforce, who took over from pacesetter Bayou’s Lassie at the top of the lane and seemed to be in prime position for a win, was a clear second under Kent Desormeaux. Rutherienne was third, a neck in front of Vacare.
Forever Together entered the Diana off a third-place finish in the Just A Game Stakes (gr. IT) June 7 at Belmont, but was only 1 1/2-lengths back of Ventura after rallying strongly at odds of 44-1 in that one-mile contest. Prior to that she made her grass debut at Arlington Park, winning by 1 1/4 lengths in the Reluctant Guest Stakes on the yielding turf course.
Bred in Kentucky by White Fox Farm and out of the Relaunch mare Constant Companion, Forever Together won the first three starts of her career last year and became a grade II winner when she took the Forward Gal (gr. II) March 10 at Gulfstream Park. She has now won five of 11 lifetime starts and earned $575,300 for George Strawbridge Jr., who races his horses under the name Augustin Stables.
Through the early stages of the Diana it was all Bayou’s Lassie, who sprinted to the lead under Robby Albarado and was 5 1/2 lengths clear through a half-mile in :46.98. The 23-1 longshot continued to lead as they came out of the final turn, but Dynaforce, who was tracking the whole way, assumed the lead at the eighth-pole. Vacare and Wait a While, also close up through six furlongs, could not keep pace.
Biding time until she came out of the turn, Forever Together was moved towards the outside by Leparoux so she could have room in the stretch. She picked off horses one-by-one with her electrifying move in the final furlong.
“I was last (early) but it was nothing spectacular," Leparoux said." I mean, she was last, relaxed and around the stretch I thought to make a move and come inside. When I got her out, she just took off. So, that was very good.
“It was a very tough field. I think, for me, she won very easily today. The (turf) is fair for everybody, I think, so that won't be an excuse, for anybody. I think she’s a very nice filly.”
Sheppard said: “As far as depth goes, this race was solid. Every race had good credentials. I picked up the paper today and four of the horses picked over her, she had beaten in her last start. I suppose if you run a superb race at (44-1), one might think it was a fluke.
“Going from a mile and an eighth to 11 furlongs (Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf) you would like a mile and a quarter race somewhere in between.The Flower Bowl (gr. I, Sept. 27 at Belmont) might be such a race."
Going off at 9-1, Forever Together paid $20, $8.20 and $5.80. The exacta (8-2) returned $126.50, while the trifecta (8-2-7) was worth $866.
Lady Digby was fifth, followed by Bayou's Lassie, Wait a While, Criminologist, Bit of Whimsy and Chestoria
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