Over the past 12 months, the Arthur Appleton homebred Forbidden Apple has both flashed the proper acceleration of a top miler, such as when winning the Kelso Handicap (gr. IIT) in each of the past two seasons, and unfurled his long-legged strides over 1 1/4 miles befitting a son of Pleasant Colony. Considering the 6-year-old, a half-sibling to both Paradise Creek and Wild Event, was still working his way out of the allowance ranks well into his 2000 campaign, this is an identity crisis well worth the problem-solving time of trainer Christophe Clement.
"I often thought he would mature into a true stayer, and he proved that in the Manhattan (gr. IT), and he also ran great just behind the world's best in Hong Kong. Yet he also seems at his best here in the fall and he's shown the turn of foot needed for the mile."
Headlining a strong field of nine for the Kelso, one of three Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) tune-ups nationwide over the weekend, were the past two winners of the Manhattan: Manndar and Forbidden Apple. Replacing Corey Nakatani, whose flight from California was canceled the day prior, aboard the Clement-trained star was Jose Santos. From the very outset of the Kelso, contested over a yielding course, Santos wrested a firm hold atop the polished black colt while committed to the inside. Kimberlite Pipe and sophomore City Zip shared control of an honest pace.
In direct contrast to Nakatani's hustling front-running ride in the Manhattan, Santos held out as long as possible before Forbidden Apple, in the rider's words, "moved like a true champion." The pair quickened to the lead just ahead of a line of closers to their outside. The Neil Drysdale-trained Sarafan finished with strong purpose for second while City Zip held beautifully in his turf debut. Forbidden Apple led home a strong final quarter in :23.32 over the giving turf. The victory was sweet for Santos, who is fully recovered from a broken wrist sustained while riding the Clement-trained Kalu in the Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIIT) in May. FOREST FIRE
Another repeat winner one day later was Delaware Township, a Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) contender quietly rounding into career-best form, as punctuated by his second straight Forest Hills Handicap (gr. II) win. Sitting the smart trip the 5-year-old horse has finally mastered, New Farm's Delaware Township galloped away from a quality quartet going six furlongs to win by 3 1/4 lengths with Eibar Coa up in a solid 1:09.49. Here again is another quintessential Belmont Park horse, a physically towering, long-striding athlete who savors the sweeping turns.
Settling easily behind dashing pacestters Hook and Ladder and Disco Rico, Delaware Township moved to the fore when asked and made a memorable run to the wire. Hook and Ladder held second, sophomore Yonaguska was third, and in his fall return, local favorite Peeping Tom ran fourth.
"He's just matured in all the right ways and we were really keen on bringing him here for the whole month to both train and race," said winning trainer Ben Perkins Jr. "He likes to be unencumbered early and seems to like giving a few of them the early lead, so his trips in both the Forego (gr. I) and here were made to order."