08/31/2005 12:00AM

Aussie invader gets his shot in Forego

Trainer Patrick Biancone said that Pomeroy may have run too hard in winning the Vanderbilt Handicap on Aug. 14 (above), so he will skip the Forego and point for the Vosburgh on Oct. 1.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The week began with the Australian champion Alinghi winning a stakes race in her North American debut. The connections of Keep the Faith hope the success of Australian-bred horses continues through Saturday's Grade 1 Forego Stakes.

Keep the Faith, an Australian-bred son of Sunday Silence, was brilliant in his North American debut, winning a classified allowance race at Belmont Park on July 24. Making his first start in 15 months, Keep the Faith ran six furlongs on turf in 1:06.82, a North American record for the distance.

Saturday, Keep the Faith tries dirt for the first time against some quality sprinters such as Battle Won, Forest Danger, and Silver Wagon. The Forego is run at seven furlongs.

Keep the Faith won 4 of 9 starts, all on turf, in Australia. He was transferred to Godolphin Racing's England division last year and was sent to the United States in March. After spending a couple of months on Bob Scanlon's farm in Ocala, Fla., he joined Godolphin's New York string in late May.

"He was sent to America to at least try the dirt, so we knew at some time we were going to put him on the dirt," said Rick Mettee, who runs Godolphin's New York stable. "He's a pretty obvious turf horse just to look at him, his style and all. I can't predict who's going to run [on dirt] and who isn't anymore. He trains great on the dirt, but when they get it kicked in their face in 44 and change, sometimes it's a different story."

Mettee said he wasn't surprised that Keep the Faith ran so well in his debut, though he couldn't have predicted a North American record.

"He struck me as the kind of horse who would run well off the layoff, the way he had trained," Mettee said. "That's why I wanted to give him plenty of time for his second race. The timing of this is really good."

Keep the Faith has worked well on the dirt. On Aug. 18, he drilled five furlongs in a bullet 58.20 seconds over the main track. He came back on Aug. 27 with an easier move in 1:02.49.

"He's always trained pretty good on it, and he's trained especially good on it up here," Mettee said. "The timing is right to try it. If he could win a Grade 1 it would really enhance his status as a stallion."

Pomeroy points to Vosburgh

Trainer Patrick Biancone confirmed Wednesday that Pomeroy would not run in Saturday's Forego, and instead will be pointed to the Grade 1, $500,000 Vosburgh on Oct. 1 at Belmont Park.

Due to wet track conditions for the second straight day, Biancone canceled a scheduled workout for Pomeroy. Biancone was concerned that Pomeroy ran too hard in winning the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on Aug. 14 and would be a candidate to bounce with just three weeks' rest.

"If I'd been able to work, I could see how he is," Biancone said. "I could not go in blind. I think he ran too hard."

Biancone said the distance was another factor in his decision to skip the Forego.

"He looks like a contender for the Breeders' Cup Sprint," Biancone said. "I don't want to go back to seven furlongs."

Cedano: Win one for the mentor

None of the 11 trainers wants to win Friday's inaugural P.G. Johnson Stakes more than Heriberto "Ocala" Cedano. The P.G. Johnson, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for juvenile fillies, is named for Hall of Fame trainer Phil Johnson, who died 13 months ago.

Cedano, who sends out Dr. Jess Jr, worked for Johnson for 33 years, before going out on his own upon Johnson's death. Cedano said he thinks about Johnson every day.

"I miss the way he was, the way he trained," Cedano said. "He was a nice person. Every day you learned something new. I miss him every step of the way. He was my friend and a good horseman. We never had an argument.

"If we win that race, forget it, I'd never forget that the rest of my life," Cedano added. "This is the first time they put a race up for him; hopefully, we get lucky."

Dr. Jess Jr is one of four maidens entered in the P.G. Johnson. In her debut, Dr. Jess Jr rallied eight wide in the stretch and was outfinished by Perilous Pursuit, who was actually behind Dr. Jess Jr in the stretch. That race was at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Jean-Luc Samyn, who teamed up with Johnson to win dozens of races, rides Dr. Jess Jr.

Jackie Robinson was a horseplayer

Rachel Robinson, the widow of Hall of Fame baseball player Jackie Robinson, was a visitor to the Saratoga backstretch on a rainy Wednesday morning. She was a guest of Len Coleman, the former president of Major League Baseball's National League, who owns horses with trainer Nick Zito.

Robinson told of how her husband - best known for breaking baseball's color barrier in 1947 - enjoyed playing the horses when his ballplaying days were over.

"He did his own handicapping," Robinson said. "He bet on them and never exceeded his own limits, so it was never a problem. It was just a joy. One night he came in - I didn't go to all the races with him - and he threw $75 on the bed and said, 'Go shopping.' It was a great pleasure for him and a very healthy outlet for him."

Robinson said her husband enjoyed harness racing as well as Thoroughbred racing and attended the races at Belmont Park and Roosevelt Raceway, on Long Island. The couple lived in Stamford, Conn., later in life.

"He would just stand on the rail, he would never sit down," Robinson said. "He was very superstitious. He would never tell you who he bet on; he'd never tell me before the race, so I never knew who to root for unless you had your own horse. It was fun watching him do that."