10/04/2002 11:00PM

Green Fee hits big in Kelso

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ELMONT, N.Y. - It wasn't until the final day of nominations that trainer Dan Peitz thought about pointing Green Fee to Saturday's $350,000 . His last-minute decision paid off big-time as Green Fee rallied past even-money favorite Forbidden Apple to win the Grade 2 Kelso by a half-length at Belmont Park.

Forbidden Apple, who was bidding for an unprecedented third consecutive Kelso victory, settled for second, 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Moon Solitaire. Krieger, Baptize, Patrol, and Lunar Leo completed the order of finish.

Peitz said he decided to pay the $250 nomination fee because Green Fee was 5 for 11 at Belmont, successful at the one-mile distance, and was in good form, coming off a second-place finish to Baptize in a classified allowance race here Sept. 6.

"I wasn't really even thinking about it, then all of a sudden it hit me: You know, maybe we ought to nominate this horse for the Kelso," Peitz said. "He loves Belmont and he loves the mile."

Peitz told jockey John Velazquez that if the proper pace scenario developed, Green Fee could get a piece of it.

Even with the scratch of Saint Verre, the pace was solid, with Krieger and Patrol hooking up to run a half-mile in 45.29 seconds. Velazquez kept Green Fee last for the opening half-mile, and made sure to follow Forbidden Apple.

Around the turn, Forbidden Apple went four wide under Jose Santos, and Green Fee went five wide. Forbidden Apple took the lead from a stubborn Moon Solitaire in deep stretch, but Green Fee swept past him in the final 50 yards to get his first graded stakes victory.

Green Fee, owned by Robert and Lawana Low, covered the mile in 1:33.83 over firm turf and returned $20.80 to win.

Describing the strategy of tracking Forbidden Apple, Velazquez said. "I knew he was the horse to beat, so I said that's the one I'm going to follow, and it worked out good."

Peitz said Green Fee would be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Mile, if he can get in. The Mile is a race that often oversubscribes.

Trainer Christophe Clement felt Santos might have moved a little too soon aboard Forbidden Apple, who at 121 pounds was conceding eight pounds to the winner.

Clement said he would still point Forbidden Apple to the Mile, a race in which he finished second last year.

"As long as he comes back okay he's got to go," Clement said. "He belongs in the race. Of course, I would have preferred to win. I think if he just waited a bit more I think he could have won the race. I'm not complaining. Santos rode the horse to win."