Saturday, January 26, 2008 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . January 26, 2008 . . . Forest Blue ran his career record to a perfect four for four Saturday when he wore down Grease Monkey in deep stretch to win the $50,000 Forego Stakes at Turfway Park. The win is the first stakes victory for the five-year-old gelding.
Grease Monkey set the pace at :22.69, :45.06, and 1:11.04 while winning jockey Victor Lebron rated Forest Blue three to four lengths behind in fifth. Forest Blue swung out coming through the turn, drew even with less than a furlong to go, and drove steadily on to win by half a length. Grease Monkey stayed in for second, three-quarters of a length ahead of the closing Recognition. Winning time for the 6 1/2-furlong Forego was 1:17.80.
"He was kind of taking it easy in the beginning and he got a little bit distracted with the track coming back at him, so I was working to keep his mind focused," said Lebron. “I had to swing him out because the speed was already coming down, and when I took him outside he was a different horse. He's one of those horses that once he's clear and he's got horses to track down, he just goes,” said Lebron. "His heart pumps up and gets big."
A son of Forest Wildcat, Forest Blue did not race until late in his three-year-old season and then waited 13 months before racing twice at four. The Forego was his first start this year. He originally was trained by Dale Romans but, according to current trainer Shannon Ritter, owner WinStar Farm LLC decided to keep him on Polytrack, so he began training with Ritter at Arlington not long before his second start, an October win at Keeneland. His earnings stand now at $91,342.
Forest Blue was third choice in the Forego at 7-2 and paid $9.40, $7.20, and $5.40.
Completing the field were Carnacks Choice, Raedonald, National Day, Three Twenty Three, the favorite Korbyn Gold, He Loves Me Not, Freedom Alert, Roi Chamant, and Likely Candidate. There were no scratches.
Apprentice O'Neill gets first and second U.S. wins
Apprentice jockey Kieran O’Neill, 20, earned his first win in the United States Saturday when he rode Winning Aptitude to a 4 3/4-length score in Turfway Park’s third race. The win was the first of two on the day for O’Neill, who also won the sixth race aboard Pickpocket Patty.
A native of County Kildare, Ireland, O’Neill won one race each at Curragh, Gowran Park, and Downpatrick Park in his home country before moving to the U.S. in November 2007. He rides with the 10-pound apprentice allowance and according to Equibase, the industry database, has compiled a 2-2-1 record from 19 mounts.
Live racing continues Sunday at Turfway at 1:10 p.m.