09/02/2010 2:35PM

Lots to like in 11-horse Forego

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Barbara D. Livingston
Vineyard Haven preps for the Forego with a victory in the James Marvin on a sloppy track opening day.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Forget the notion that big races always draw small, select fields. With 11 seasoned runners in the field, Saturday’s Grade 1, $250,000 Forego at Saratoga has quality and quantity.

The group of sprinters ready for the seven-furlong supporting feature to the Woodward Stakes starts with Bribon and Vineyard Haven closest to the rail and Checklist and You and I Forever furthest out. In between are Girolamo, Big Drama, Here Comes Ben, Charitable Man, Omniscient, Starforaday, and Warrior’s Reward.

Vineyard Haven has made four of his nine career starts at Saratoga, compiling a 2-1-1 record. Both wins came at seven furlongs, and he finished first in the seven-furlong King’s Bishop last year, but was disqualified and placed second. He will be making his second start of the season on a program designed by Godolphin to prepare him for the Breeders’ Cup. Vineyard Haven prepped for the Forego with a 1 3/4-length victory in the James Marvin over a sloppy track on opening day, July 23. His other win at Saratoga came in the 2008 Hopeful.

“We thought the Breeders’ Cup Mile was a logical place for him, the one-turn mile at Churchill this year,” said Rick Mettee, U.S. assistant to Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

“This is the race we kind of had picked out as the major Grade 1 of the summer – this is the race we pointed him for. It’s come up a good race with Big Drama and many of the others. You wouldn’t expect a Grade 1 at Saratoga not to come up a good race.”

Mettee said Vineyard Haven has trained very well for the Forego; he worked six furlongs in 1:12.40 on Aug. 28.

Godolphin also will send out Girloamo, a 4-year-old A.P. Indy colt who is unbeaten in two races at Saratoga, including the Grade 2 Jerome last fall. he will be making his first start of 2010, and a Grade 1 was not the expected starting point for his comeback. When a six-furlong allowance race didn’t fill in mid-August, the Forego and Sunday’s six-furlong Icecapade at Monmouth became the options to get him ready for the Vosburgh. Mettee said the decision was made not to ship the colt to Monmouth.

“We said, ‘Look, he’s won twice going seven-eighths on this track, he’s right here. Let’s just run him here and we’ll see what we’ve got coming out,’ ” Mettee said.

Warrior’s Reward won the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on April 3, and will be making his first start since an uncharacteristically poor performance in the Metropolitan Handicap, where he finished sixth, 11 1/2 lengths behind Quality Road. Trainer Ian Wilkes said he made the mistake of having jockey Calvin Borel place his late-runner too close to the pace.

“I screwed up,” Wilkes said. “I wanted to win the race too much instead of letting my horse do it. I wanted to put the horse into it too much. I tried to think that I had to try and beat Quality Road instead of letting my horse beat him. It’s as simple as that.”

Big Drama, second to Majesticperfection in the Grade 1 A.G. Vanderbilt on Aug. 8, shipped in from Calder earlier in the week for his third try at a Saratoga victory. Trainer David Fawkes was happy with the way Big Drama ran in the Vanderbilt and said the Montbrook colt showed him he was ready for another visit to Saratoga.

“The horse worked very, very well in Miami and we made kind of a last-minute decision to come here,” Fawkes said. “It’s a competitive race, but I think he fits in well.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher also entered Checklist in the $100,000 Icecapade at Monmouth and said a decision had not been made on where he will run.