Updated on 09/17/2011 10:57AM

Max Forever upsets Long Branch


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Even trainer Ben Perkins Jr. had lost hope in Max Forever.

"I thought he was going to spit it out," Perkins said when his colt appeared to fade on the final turn.

There was no quit in Max Forever, however, as he battled back Saturday afternoon to win the Grade 3, $100,000 at Monmouth Park.

The Long Branch is the local prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 3. Monmouth traditionally extends Haskell invitations to the top Long Branch finishers, and Max Forever may have earned a spot in the biggest race of the meet.

A Haskell invite didn't seem likely for Max Forever when the six 3-year-olds stepped onto the track for the 69th running of the 1 1/16-miles stakes. He was the second-longest shot in the field and had never finished better than fourth in a stakes race.

The Long Branch turned into an eventful run for Max Forever, a son of Montbrook.

Following instructions from Perkins, jockey Jose Ferrer took a solid hold on the normally free-running Max Forever and had to check to avoid running up the heels of the pacesetting Chilly Rooster.

On the run down the backstretch, Chilly Rooster drifted off the rail and Ferrer took the opportunity to shoot the fence and grab a short lead.

Chilly Rooster and Christine's Outlaw, the 4-5 favorite, immediately pounced on the new pacesetter.

Rounding the final turn, they raced three across the track and it appeared Max Forever had had enough

But Max Forever wasn't done. Ferrer asked for more run at the top of the stretch and the colt responded gamely.

Through the lane it was a two-horse race with Max Forever outdueling Christine's Outlaw by a head. Chilly Rooster ran third.

"My horse kept digging all the way to wire," Ferrer said.

Max Forever paid $25 to win and stopped the clock in 1:43.56 over the fast track.