04/08/2005 11:00PM

Forest Danger triumphs in Carter

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Todd Pletcher retired his champion sprinter Speightstown at the end of last year. It now appears he has a capable replacement in Forest Danger.

Forest Danger vaulted to the top of the East Coast sprint division Saturday by running past Medallist and Don Six in the stretch to win the Grade 1, $350,000 by 1 3/4 lengths before 9,944 at Aqueduct. Medallist, the only horse to beat Forest Danger, finished second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Don Six. Unforgettable Max, Mass Media, and Primary Suspect completed the order of finish.

Forest Danger, who was purchased for $900,000 at auction by Aaron and Marie Jones, covered the seven furlongs in 1:20.46, just .42 seconds off the stakes and course record set by Artax in 1999. Artax won the sprint championship that year.

It was the fifth victory from six career starts for Forest Danger and came one year after he won the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes over this track. It also came two months after he made a smashing 4-year-old debut in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park following a long layoff due to injury.

Though he had shown good speed in the past, Forest Danger was actually last out of the gate under Rafael Bejarano in the Carter. Don Six, under Mike Luzzi, opened up a 2 1/2-length lead while running an opening quarter in 21.59 seconds, with Medallist, under Jose Santos, chasing in second.

Forest Danger was fourth after the opening quarter and moved into third entering the far turn. Don Six stayed on the lead after six furlongs in 1:07.48, but Medallist and Forest Danger passed him inside the final furlong. Medallist drifted out slightly inside the furlong marker, but Forest Danger was unimpeded as he closed strongly to win.

"My horse stayed very comfortable back a couple of lengths," Bejarano said. "At the half-mile [pole], when I asked my horse, he came little by little. At the quarter pole he changed leads and my horse finished strong."

Allen Jerkens, the trainer of Medallist, said he was happy with his horse's performance in defeat.

"It's the best race he's ever run," Jerkens said. "He was real game. He was second and came on again after being headed; I thought it was great. That horse is a better horse than he is right now. Can't run much faster."