Mountain Forum Sweeps To Victory In OBS Championship

Mountain Forum Sweeps To Victory In OBS Championship
Photo: Louise Reinagel
Mountain Forum romps home victorious in the OBS Championship Stakes.
Mountain Forum isn't nominated to the Triple Crown. But co-owner Mike Polselli was dreaming about the Kentucky Derby after the 3-year-old son of Open Forum captured the colt and gelding division of the $100,000 OBS Championship Stakes on Monday.

"It's in the back of my mind," said Polselli, when asked if he would consider making Mountain Forum a late Triple Crown nominee. "I'd love to see him go a lot farther, but we'll have to see how he comes out of the race."

Mountain Forum swept to the lead on the outside in the final turn, then pulled away for 3 ½-length win under John Velasquez. Quest Star finished second, and Forum Bells was third. The winning time over a fast track on a hot, sunny day in Central Florida was 1:46.60.

Mountain Forum has a record of four victories in 12 career starts. Last November, he scored in the Fabulous Frolic Stakes at Calder. But the colt did not win again until February, when he took an optional claiming event at Gulfstream Park by a nose. In addition to Polselli, a Michigan resident, Mountain Forum is owned by Hilmer Schmidt and Charlotte Gershaw, who is the mother of the colt's trainer, Ronald Spatz.

"He (Mountain Forum) came up here (from South Florida), and he was pretty excited yesterday," Spatz said. "But he settled in nice, and he was full of himself this morning, so I was hoping for a good race from him. But, I tell you, the first part of the race he didn't look like he was going anywhere. He just dropped his head and was trying not to catch the dirt."

Unlike Polselli, Spatz wasn't talking about the Triple Crown.

"I'm not sure where he'll go next," the trainer said. "They've got a race at Gulfstream, the Aventura (on April 6), I think it's called. I go one step at a time. We'll see how he ships back."

Five other added-money events were run during the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's annual day of racing. The results were as follows:

Anstu Stables' Bronze Autumn held off Salem Willow by a neck in the stretch and then survived foul claim to win the filly division of the $100,000 OBS Championship Stakes. With John Velasquez up, the winner covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.80. Salem Willow's rider, Edgar Prado, unsuccessfully appealed the result to the stewards, saying that Bronze Autumn and Velasquez interfered with his mount near the 16th pole. "I saw them bump, but I was over in a corner, and it was hard to tell how much contact they made," said Bronze Autumn's trainer Todd Pletcher. "I'll have to watch the replay to get a better idea, but obviously I think they (the stewards) made the right decision."

Hi Tech Honeycomb finished third.

A 3-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley, Bronze Autumn was scoring her second victory in five career starts and her first win in an added-money event. In her last outing prior to the OBS Championship, she captured seven-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream Park by five lengths.

"Being a Mr. Greeley, early on, we thought she wanted to be a six-furlong horse," Pletcher said. "We were getting a little bit frustrated, but when we stretched her out to seven last time, and I loved the way she ran and I particularly liked the way she galloped out. As soon as she did that, I thought right then that this might be the race for her. So we trained her since then with the idea of this was where we were going to run her."

Pletcher was not sure where Bronze Autumn would run next.

"We'll probably take her back to New York," he said. "We're happy with this win, and we don't have any ambitions that she's going to the Oaks or anything like that. We'll just enjoy this one and see what comes next."

Hardacre Farm's Bold World romped by 10 ½ lengths in the filly division of the $50,000 OBS Sprint Stakes. Ridden by Jorge Chavez, the 3-year-old daughter of Fortunate Prospect covered six furlongs in 1:09 80.
"I expected her to win," said owner Amy Tarrant of Hardacre. "But when you expect to win, it's nerve-racking. I was a nervous wreck."

Bold World might run again this Friday in the Charon Stakes at Gulfstream, according to trainer Ronald Taylor. "It didn't seem to take a lot out of her, but I won't really know until tomorrow," he said. Another possibility for Bold World is the Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland. "Her upper limit is a one-turn mile," Taylor said.

Sea Span finished second in the OBS Sprint, and Forum Search was third. Bold World sold for $475,000 at the 2001 OBS April sale of 2-year-olds in training.

Cindy and Ron Stengel's Royal Lad fought off a late challenge from Warners to take the colt and gelding division of the $50,000 OBS Sprint Stakes by three lengths. The 3-year-old son of Montbrook covered six furlongs in 1:09.60 under Eibar Coa.

Trainer Ralph Ziadie was not surprised by the victory. "That's why I skipped the Swale (at Gulfstream) just to come here," he said. "When I bought him here, he trained super on this track so I thought he would like it. The purse wasn't as big as the Swale's, but I thought this was the spot for him. We will definitely keep him sprinting."

Warners, who brought $1,050,000 at the OBS March select juvenile sale in 2001, held on to second by four lengths over Barnacle Steve. (Warners is the most expensive 2-year-old ever sold by OBS.) Royal Lad brought $190,000 last March at OBS.

Warners' trainer, Pletcher, said the colt would go to New York and point for the Bay Shore Stakes. "I thought he ran a good race, he just got a little tired the last part," Pletcher said.

Warners had not started since breaking his maiden at Saratoga last September.

James Lewis Jr.'s Handsome Smile rolled to 2 ½-length victory in the $35,000 Florida Thoroughbred Charities Stakes, equaling the track record for five furlongs of :58.20. Chavez rode the 4-year-old son of Robyn Dancer. Raysin Thunder was second, edging Fantastic Finish by a neck. Handsome Smile is trained by Emanuel Tortora.

Flaming Light outdueled Laurel Light in the stretch to capture the $35,000 Florida Breeders' Distaff Stakes by a neck. With Pat Day up, the winner completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.60. Flaming Light and Laurel Light are both homebred 5-year-old mares by Colony Light that race for J.D. Farms. Both are trained by David Brownlee. Sea Mist finished third.

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