Updated on 09/15/2011 1:33PM

Bowling Green a pivotal race


ELMONT, N.Y. - Christophe Clement and Bill Mott are on a reconnaissance mission of sorts heading into Saturday's $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap, a 1 3/8-mile Grade 2 race run over Belmont Park's inner turf course. Both trainers are trying to find out which way they should point their Bowling Green horses for the more prestigious turf events in the fall.

Forbidden Apple, trained by Clement, is already proven at a mile and would be a solid fit in the Breeders' Cup Mile, a race in which he was beaten only 2 1/2 lengths last year. But, following Forbidden Apple's front-running victory in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap at 10 furlongs, Clement will try to see just how far the horse can run. After all, the Breeders' Cup Turf, run at 1 1/2 miles, is worth $2 million, twice as much as the Mile.

"I think he'll stay the mile and three-eighths," Clement said, "and if he does we'll try to see if he'll stay the mile and a half. If we don't think he'd stay, then we'll gradually come down and point to the Breeders' Cup Mile."

Forbidden Apple excels at Belmont Park, having won 6 of 9 starts here. That includes three stakes scores, ranging in distance from a mile to 1 1/4 miles. He looms the main speed on Saturday under Jean-Luc Samyn, who takes the call with Corey Nakatani playing in a golf tournament this weekend.

"He can be stalking, he can be on the lead; that's the great thing about him," Clement said of Forbidden Apple, who breaks from post 7.

The lack of other speed in the race could hinder Mott's plans to find out the distance capabilities of King Cugat. Although he won his maiden at a mile and was beaten only five lengths in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile after a troubled trip, King Cugat seems best suited to nine furlongs, at which he is 4 for 7.

In the 1 1/4-mile Manhattan, King Cugat finished second to Forbidden Apple, beaten only three-quarters of a length after encountering traffic trouble on both turns. King Cugat wore blinkers for the first time in the Manhattan, but Mott didn't notice any improvement, so he plans to take them off for the Bowling Green.

"I don't think they helped our situation at all," Mott said. "He didn't break any better and wasn't any closer the first eighth of a mile, and then he got backed up in a slow pace."

Completing the field are Night Patrol, State Shinto, Slew Valley, Boston Party, and Man From Wicklow.

for Bowling Green Handicap Past Performances.

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