Rachel Alexandra’s attempt against older males has given the Woodward (gr. I) all the headlines, but Saratoga’s other grade I race on Sept. 5—the $300,000 Forego Stakes—is no slouch. The seven-furlong sprint drew a solid field of a 12, including the morning-line favorite, Kodiak Kowboy.
The lone grade I winner in the field, Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farm’s Kodiak Kowboy makes his second start of the Saratoga meet after running third in the Aug. 9 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. II). The 4-year-old son of Posse—Kokadrie, by Coronado’s Quest, was beaten 2 1/4 lengths by leading sprint division rival Fabulous Strike. That race was at six furlongs, an eighth of a mile less than the seven-furlong Carter Handicap (gr. I) when Kodiak Kowboy defeated Fabulous Strike by a head April 4 at Aqueduct.
Kodiak Kowboy (5-2), who also scored the Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap at Philadelphia Park in June, has a fondness for the Spa, having won the Saratoga Special (gr. II) in 2007 and Amsterdam (gr. II) in 2008 over the same strip. Bred in Kentucky by Hartwell Farm, the bay colt has been working steadily at Delaware Park for trainer Larry Jones in preparation for the Forego. He drew post 2 and will have Gabriel Saez aboard.
“He’s doing great, we just hope he’s ready for another big effort,” Jones said just after Kodiak Kowboy arrived at Saratoga by van Sept. 2. “I keep telling him, ‘You won at Saratoga at two and at three, you have to win one here at four.’”
The Forego will also mark the return of Pyro into graded stakes company. A star as a 3-year-old in 2008, Pyro became one of the early Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) favorites after winning the Risen Star (gr. III) and Louisiana Derby (gr. II) in impressive fashion. But the son of Pulpit only won once in seven starts the rest of a season that culminated in a sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.
Pyro, previously trained by Steve Asmussen, was sold to Godolphin and moved into the barn of Saeed bin Suroor. Off for more than nine months, he returned to action July 29 in the James Marvin Stakes at Saratoga, where he finished runner-up to Forego entrant Gold Trippi. John Velazquez was making his first start on Pyro in that race and he will have the mount again. They will break from the rail.
“It was either this or the Woodward,” said Rick Mettee, assistant to bin Suroor. "We feel that seven furlongs might be a better trip for him than nine furlongs. Nine furlongs at Saratoga is pretty demanding right now. They get pretty tired coming down the lane.”
E. Paul Robsham’s Florida homebred Gold Trippi defeated Pyro by a half-length in the James Marvin after overcoming a poor start. The 5-year-old gelding, who raced in a $125,000 claimer in February at Gulfstream, will make his grade I debut for trainer Stanley Hough. Cornelio Velasquez will be in the irons again.
Quality Racing Stable’s True Quality looked like he was on the cusp of stardom after defeating Fabulous Strike in the Feb. 16 General George Handicap (gr. II) at Laurel, but has been off the board in two starts since. The 4-year-old Elusive Quality colt was fifth in the Carter and most recently, seventh in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Handicap Aug. 1 on the Penn National turf. Javier Castellano rides for Roy Sedlacek. They will break from post 11.
Another contender coming out of the Carter is Repole Stable’s Driven by Success. The 4-year-old gelding finished third in that event, beaten only two lengths, then finished third again next out in the grade I Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont. In yet another third-place effort, Driven by Success was beaten 5 1/2 lengths by Munnings in the July 5 Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II). The chestnut son of Precise End seeks his first stakes victory. Ramon Dominguez will ride for trainer Bruce Levine.
In Driven by Success’ most recent start, he was beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Law Enforcement in the New York restricted John Morrissey Stakes Aug. 6. Law Enforcement has won consecutive stakes for trainer Mark Hennig and will make his graded stakes debut.