09/04/2009 12:00AM

Many willing to test Forego favorites

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Larry Jones takes Kodiak Kowboy out for a gallop Thursday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainers Larry Jones and Rick Mettee were surprised to find that a dozen horses were entered in the Grade 1, $300,000 Forego at Saratoga.

Jones and his 4-year-old colt Kodiak Kowboy arrived at Saratoga Race Course on Wednesday afternoon shortly after the overnights for the Saturday program were released.

Kodiak Kowboy, the 5-2 favorite on the morning line, drew post 2, a few feet to the outside of Pyro, the 4-1 second choice handled by Mettee, Godolphin's North American assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

"If I had known this was going to be a 12-horse field, I may have stayed in Delaware," Jones said, chuckling.

Jones said he expected a field of about eight horses for the 30th running of the seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up.

"This is what Grade 1 races are supposed to be comprised of, but they're only that way if I'm in them," Jones said. "They're only huge races if I'm in them."

Mettee said he figured that Pyro would face five or six other runners in the second start since undergoing knee surgery. Jockey John Velazquez, who rode Pyro to a second-place finish in the James Marvin on opening day, July 29, has the mount.

"We weren't expecting this big a field," Mettee said. "In a 12-horse field it's never the easiest draw getting the 1 hole."

The Forego also includes Marvin winner Gold Trippi; Law Enforcement and Driven by Success, the first two finishers in the 6 1/2-furlong John Morrissey on Aug. 9; Keep Laughing, runner-up in the Teddy Drone at Monmouth on Aug. 2; Multitude, a New York-bred trying stakes company after three straight wins; My Pal Charlie, last year's Super Derby winner who has turned in some strong performances in graded stakes this year; Peace Chant, making his first start since winning the Phoenix Gold Cup in mid-February at Turf Paradise; Seagram's Cup runner-up Ready's Echo; speedy Riley Tucker, who was second to Munnings in the Tom Fool; and True Quality, winner of the Paumonok and Grade 2 General George earlier this year.

Regular rider Gabriel Saez will be aboard Kodiak Kowboy, winner of the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on April 4. In his most recent start, Kodiak Kowboy finished third in the six-furlong, Grade 2 A.G. Vanderbilt on Aug. 9 at Saratoga.

Kodiak Kowboy won the Saratoga Special as a 2-year-old in 2007 and edged Desert Key in the Amsterdam last summer. Both of those races were at 6 1/2 furlongs. Jones said Kodiak Kowboy is better suited for the Forego distance, where he has picked up his two wins this season.

"This is what he likes," Jones said. "Everybody is in here at equal weights. I'm glad to see that. We'll see what happens. Usually in these big fields, they'll get some pace. Hopefully they'll be rockin' and rolling and we'll see what happens. We would like something that is going to really roll and kind of helps carry us along and gets our horse in gear a little quicker. Plus, maybe they'll come back to us if they do step on it out there."

Jones said Kodiak Kowboy was a little tired after the Vanderbilt, so he only was asked to work once, a five-furlong breeze in 1:02 Monday at Delaware Park.

Pyro encountered some trouble near the quarter pole in the Marvin, but finished with a flourish and ended up a half-length behind Gold Trippi.

"He's going to have to run better than he did to win this race," Mettee said. "His comeback race was a good race, but he's going to have to run faster than that to beat these horses. But we feel we certainly have the horse coming up to the race the right way."