For Chuck Simon, nothing would be sweeter than scoring his first grade I victory at Saratoga Race Course. He will get the opportunity when he saddles Jay and Gretchen Manoogian's Battle Won in Saturday's $250,000 Forego Handicap (gr. I), going seven furlongs.
Battle Won has earned a reputation as a world traveler over the last year. In an ambitious placing, he was sent to Hong Kong last December for a run in the group I Hong Kong Sprint at five furlongs on turf. Despite being sent off at 97-1, Battle Won did not run badly, finishing eighth beaten seven lengths in the 14-horse field that included Silent Witness, who won his first 17 starts before tasting defeat this May.
After receiving a well-deserved rest, Battle Won returned to American racing with a fourth-place bid in the 5 1/2-furlong Shakertown on Keeneland's turf. Simon decided to switch Battle Won back to the dirt after that grass race and that move paid big dividends as the gelding drew off to take the grade II Churchill Downs Handicap on Kentucky Derby Day.
Battle Won has finished second in a pair of starts since the first Saturday in May, most recently a runner-up effort to Greg's Gold in the Bing Crosby Handicap (gr. I) at Del Mar July 31.
"He's a durable horse and he's very mild mannered," Simon said when asked if long-range shipping was taking a toll on Battle Won. "Things that bother a lot of other horses really don't bother him."
Battle Won is being pointed to the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) as part of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park Oct. 29 and Simon said the gelding is likely to have a race in between the Forego and the Sprint.
"He'll probably go in the Vosburgh," Simon said. "That will give him a race over the track and I'd rather him go into the Sprint off a six-furlong race rather than a seven-furlong race. The timing is perfect. After the Forego, we have five weeks to the Vosburgh and then four weeks to the Sprint."
The $500,000 Vosburgh (gr. I) will be run Oct.1.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez, who won on Battle Won earlier this year, will have the mount on the gelding.