09/04/2010 6:25PM

Here Comes Ben proves he belongs among nation's elite sprinters

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Barbara D. Livingston
Here Comes Ben, under Alex Solis, wins the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Charles Lopresti and his 4-year-old colt Here Comes Ben passed their Grade 1 audition Saturday at Saratoga and the sprint division may have picked up a new significant player.

Here Comes Ben, under Alex Solis, split horses at the three-sixteenths pole then wore down Big Drama to win the $250,000 Forego Stakes by three-quarters of a length. Big Drama, second to Majesticperfection in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt a month ago, held second by 1 1/2 lengths over favored Vineyard Haven. They were followed in the order of finish by Warrior’s Reward, Girolamo, Bribon, Omniscient, and Checklist.

The win was the fourth straight for Here Comes Ben, but his first in a graded stakes. It was also Lopresti’s first starter in a Grade 1 and first starter at Saratoga.

“I was little intimidated coming up here,” Lopresti said. “I’ve never run in a Grade 1 before. I know he has the numbers, I know Alex has been telling me this is a really good horse,” Lopresti said. “We brought him up here two weeks before, he trained really well, he did everything right. We had to see if he was this kind of horse and he proved it today.”

The Forego field contained several Grade 1 winners, including Vineyard Haven, Warrior’s Reward, and Bribon.

Under Solis, Here Comes Ben was saving ground in the back of the pack while Checklist set fractions of 22.55 seconds and 45.29 for the opening half-mile. Approaching the quarter pole, Solis took Here Comes Ben off the rail, came into the three path in the stretch, then rallied past Big Drama - who had taken the lead at the five-sixteenths pole - in deep stretch to get the win.

Here Comes Ben, a son of Street Cry, covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.50 and returned $21.80 to win.

“I had a lot of horse because I know when he switched to that right lead he’s so strong on it and when I hit him he took off running and I know he has that kick,” said Solis, who earned just his second winner of the Saratoga meet. “At the sixteenth pole I knew I had him. My horse was coming really strong.”

Vineyard Haven, who won the James Marvin Stakes at the beginning of the meet, was sitting third along the inside down the backstretch, but basically stayed one-paced in the stretch. He was beaten two lengths.

“I was disappointed with Vineyard Haven,” said trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who noted that jockey Alan Garcia “said he was traveling good, but he didn’t give him the same feelings. We’ll take him to the stable and check him and we’ll look for another Grade 1 for him.”

* C.S. Silk ($10.60), ridden by John Velazquez, drew off to a 2 1/2-length win over Fantasia in the $70,000 Addison Mallery Stakes for fillies and mares. A 4-year-old filly trained by Dale Romans, C.S. Silk ran a mile on the inner turf course in 1:35.29.