07/16/2016 5:50PM

King Kreesa refuses to lose in Forbidden Apple

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
King Kreesa, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., snaps a six-race losing streak when he holds on by a nose in the Forbidden Apple.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Force the Pass crept up alongside King Kreesa at the quarter pole of Saturday’s $150,000 Forbidden Apple Stakes at Belmont Park and it seemed like a matter of not when, not if, he would go on by and win the race.

John Velazquez, the jockey on Force the Pass, thought so. Irad Ortiz Jr., the jockey on King Kreesa, did too. The only one who didn’t think that was King Kreesa. The 7-year-old King Kreesa turned back the challenge of Force the Pass and simply wouldn’t let him pass through the stretch as he held on for a nose victory in the Forbidden Apple.

It was the first win for King Kreesa since he took last year’s Forbidden Apple. He had lost six races in a row since.

It was the 10th win from 32 starts for King Kreesa, a gelding by King Kugat owned by Gerald and Susan Kresa and trained by David Donk. King Kreesa has now earned more than $1.2 million.

“He’s a good fighter. I’m impressed,” said  Donk, who won his 12th race of the Belmont meet, a personal best. “He’s 7-years-old. They don’t have to be that good at 7. It’s fun to have him.”

King Kreesa has done his best work on the front end and with no pace in the Forbidden Apple, King Kreesa was able to make the lead rather easily under Ortiz. But Velazquez had Force the Pass to the outside of King Kreesa, a little more than a length behind, through a quarter-mile of 24.31 seconds and a half-mile in 47.20. Approaching the top of the stretch, after six furlongs in 1:09.82, Force the Pass inched closer and it appeared Force the Pass was poised to go by.

“I was thinking the same thing,” Ortiz said. “This horse is a fighter; he felt him and he gave me a second reaction. He’s got a big heart. When he’s in front, he’s a fighter.”

While Velazquez said he would have preferred somebody else to put the pressure on King Kreesa, he thought he was in good position.

“I thought I was where I was supposed to be and I never passed him,” Velazquez said.

King Kreesa ran a mile in 1:33.06 and returned $6.70 as the second choice.

“They were flying home,” Donk said. “It’s a credit to my horse how fast they were coming home to hold off that other horse.”

Donk said he would point King Kreesa to the $150,000 West Point for New York-breds at Saratoga on Aug. 26. King Kreesa won that race in 2014.