Updated on 09/16/2011 8:24AM

Avanzado captures Forest Hills


ELMONT, N.Y. - After giving his connections a scary moment, Avanzado gave them something to think about with a three-quarters of a length victory in Sunday's Grade 2, $250,000 at Belmont Park.

The victory was Avanzado's third in as many tries since coming to this country from his native Argentina. Avanzado is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup, and it would cost owner Michael Cooper $200,000 to supplement for the $1 million Sprint on Oct. 26 at Arlington Park.

``We'll have to give it a lot of thought,' said Cooper, who did not want to commit to anything in the euphoria of the moment.

Before euphoria there was anxiety for Cooper, trainer Doug O'Neill and especially jockey Tyler Baze, who was riding his first mount at Belmont. After breaking on top, Avanzado sat off Sunray Spirit through an opening half-mile in 45.78 seconds. Turning for home, Avanzado made the lead, and appeared to be easily holding Dash for Daylight at bay through the lane. But a few jumps before the wire, Avanzado took a few awkward steps, causing Baze to lose an iron. Baze held on, as did Avanzado, who covered six furlongs in 1:11.00 and returned $5 as the favorite.

``He dug his feet into the ground and I almost went over his head,' Baze said. ``I was lucky to stay on.'

According to O'Neill, Avanzado made a similar move with an exercise rider at almost the same spot on the track while galloping at Belmont earlier in the week.

``My rider thinks it was the ``Belmont Park' sign on the inside of the track,' O'Neill said. ``That was scary.'

O'Neill seemed more anxious to run in an invitational sprint race in Hong Kong than the Breeders' Cup.

``He ran a lot of his races in Argentina on straightaways and I think the race in Hong King is on a straightaway,' O'Neill said.

Nasty Storm upsets Gallant Bloom

Nasty Storm, a disappointment in three prior graded stakes tries in New York, won a prolonged stretch drive with Raging Fever to take the Grade 2, $150,000 by one length.

Raging Fever, who had to deal with pressure while racing inside of Harmony Lodge early, ran gamely to be second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Shine Again.

Last year, Nasty Storm came to Saratoga and finished third in the Grade 1 Test Stakes after breaking horribly. This year, Nasty Storm was beaten a combined 25 lengths in the Honorable Miss Stakes and Ballerina Handicap at the Spa.

Sunday, under Jose Santos, Nasty Storm raced just off the pace established by Raging Fever and Harmony Lodge, who dueled through splits of 22.58 seconds and 45.50. Nasty Storm advanced to the lead in upper stretch and shook free of Raging Fever late. Nasty Storm covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.89 and returned $30.80 to win.

``We wanted to give her a chance to redeem herself,' trainer Dallas Stewart said. ``She was training good in Saratoga, but didn't run any good up there. We wanted to come back to New York and roll the dice one more time. The race unfolded perfectly for her. She has good tactical speed and Jose [Santos] put her right there and gave her every chance.'

Stewart said Nasty Storm would most likely make her next start in the Grade 3, $125,000 Thoroughbred Club of American at Keeneland on Oct. 20.

Trainer Mark Hennig said Raging Fever would either run in the First Flight Handicap at Aqueduct on Oct. 26 or be put away for the season and brought back next year.