09/01/2005 12:00AM

Just like old times?

Forest Danger looked like one of the country's top sprinters winning the Carter Handicap in April (above). But one race later he suffered a torn muscle, and hasn't raced since.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Forest Danger began the year as if he were going to develop into one of the top sprinters in the country. But after a dismal showing in the Metropolitan Handicap in May, followed a by summer of inactivity, Forest Danger must prove himself once again.

That process begins Saturday when Forest Danger heads a seven-horse field entered in the $250,000 , the last Grade 1 run at the Saratoga meet. The Forego tops an 11-race card that includes the $65,000 With Anticipation Stakes for juvenile colts on turf. The day will also feature an appearance by Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex, who will be paraded down the stretch following the second race.

Forest Danger, a son of Forestry trained by Todd Pletcher, runs in a field that includes Silver Wagon, Battle Won, Mass Media, and Keep the Faith.

After a solid 3-year-old season that was cut short by injury, Forest Danger picked up where he left off with a strong allowance win at Gulfstream Park in February and an off-the-pace score in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap.

Some handicappers gave Forest Danger a chance to upset defending Horse of the Year Ghostzapper in the Met Mile on Memorial Day, but Forest Danger bore out badly in the race and finished fifth.

Forest Danger was found to have a torn muscle in his left rear. He returned to the work tab in July and, most recently, has been working in blinkers, which he will wear for the first time in the Forego. Forest Danger is 3 for 3 at the Forego distance of seven furlongs.

"He worked very well with the blinkers," Pletcher said. "The tricky part about training him is he's one of those horses where there's little margin for error for turning him on or off. If you turn him off he can go too slow; if you turn him on he can go too fast. So there's sort of a balancing act there to go the right speed."

Pletcher anticipates Forest Danger will be on or near the lead in the Forego. Forest Danger will break from post 2 under John Velazquez and high weight of 123 pounds.

Yankee Mon and Battle Won figure to be the other pace factors in the Forego. Yankee Mon has won 4 of 5 starts, mainly in New York-bred competition. He is trained by Richard Dutrow Jr.

Battle Won returns from Del Mar after running a strong second in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby. In that race, Battle Won broke a step slowly and was rushed up to race on the lead. Trainer Chuck Simon would like to see Battle Won stalk the pace as he did when he won the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap in May.

"He shows up every time," Simon said. "That's the best thing about him. If he keeps showing up he'll win one of these big races."

Simon thought about passing this race and pointing Battle Won to the Vosburgh at Belmont on Oct. 1, but the horse trained too well to wait.

"He's done well here and there's no real reason not to run," Simon said. "I just hope he likes the track. He's been running on real fast racetracks at both Churchill and Del Mar, where this racetrack, some days it's real fast and other days not."

Silver Wagon certainly liked this track as a 2-year-old, winning his maiden and the Grade 1 Hopeful. He finished second to Ghostzapper in the Met Mile, but has been battling foot problems since. Trainer Ralph Ziadie believes those foot troubles are behind him, and his only concern is whether Silver Wagon wants to go farther than seven furlongs

"He's been running like he wants to go an extra furlong," Ziadie said. "I tried my best to put a little speed into him for this race. Hopefully, it works."

Trainer Bobby Frankel seeks his third straight Forego victory with Mass Media, who gets blinkers for the first time in four starts. Keep the Faith, who set a North American record by running six furlongs on turf in 1:06.82, makes his dirt debut.

The field

Forego Stakes
Purse: $250,000; 7 furlongs; Grade 1

1Silver WagonC. Velasquez1176-1
2Forest DangerJ. Velazquez1236-5
3Battle WonR. Dominguez1214-1
4Yankee MonE. Prado11710-1
5SwingforthefencesE. Coa11710-1
6Keep The FaithG. Stevens1179-2
7Mass MediaJ. Castellano11710-1

* Blinkers on: Forest Danger, Mass Media
* Odds by Art Gropper