09/03/2004 11:00PM

Just as good on short rest

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Midas Eyes, running just 10 days after winning an allowance off a long layoff, draws clear under Edgar Prado in the Forego Handicap.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - When Midas Eyes returned to the races on Aug. 25 and came within .40 of a second of the track record off a 190-day break, he showed he could win off a long layoff. In the Grade 1 at Saratoga on Saturday, he showed he could win on short rest, too.

Midas Eyes, with Edgar Prado aboard, put away 9-5 favorite Strong Hope in the final furlong and was ridden out to a 1 3/4-length victory over Clock Stopper. Although Clock Stopper made a late charge, he never threatened the winner. Gygistar rallied for third and finished a nose in front of Strong Hope.

Completing the order of finish were Unforgettable Max, Gold Dollar, A Huevo, Yessirgeneralsir, and Eavesdropper.

Midas Eyes ($9.20), a 4-year-old son of Touch Gold owned by Ed Gann, captured his first Grade 1 victory in the Forego. The victory was Prado's sixth Grade 1 of the meet, giving him wins in half of the Grade 1 flat races run at Saratoga this summer. The Forego was also the first Grade 1 victory of the meet for trainer Bobby Frankel.

Ankle problems had shelved Midas Eyes after a fourth-place finish in the Strub Stakes at Santa Anita in February, and he returned to the races here 10 days prior to the Forego with an impressive third-level allowance win.

"I got to give credit to my exercise rider Jose Cuevas," Frankel said. "He kept telling me how good he was doing and how sound he was. I said if he's sound we have to take a shot."

Strong Hope and Midas Eyes both broke sharply in the field of nine. Frankel said he instructed Prado to guide Midas Eyes to the outside, and Prado did so by rating Midas Eyes in third down the backstretch, about two lengths off the opening fractions of 22.37 and 44.91 seconds set by Yessirgeneralsir.

Strong Hope overtook the pacesetter with three furlongs remaining, but Midas Eyes quickly challenged three wide and took the lead at the eighth pole. Midas Eyes covered seven furlongs over a fast track in 1:22.22.

Strong Hope was making his first start since a third-place finish in the Met Mile on May 31. Trainer Todd Pletcher said Strong Hope may have taken a bad step in the lane.

"We put up a fight till the eighth pole," said Pletcher, who earlier on the card tied the meet record for wins (35) by a trainer, which he set last year. "It looked like he took a funny step, lost momentum, and it probably cost him third."