09/16/2009 11:00PM

Sale falls through, and Forener is back


AUBURN, Wash. - Forener is back in his barn at Emerald Downs, apparently none the worse for wear after a journey across the country and back. Keith Swagerty, his owner, also professes to be fine in the wake of a proposed sale of the horse that fell through under mysterious circumstances.

Undefeated in two starts, Forener was scratched from the Aug. 9 Premio Esmeralda Stakes after Swagerty reached an agreement to sell a 60 percent interest in the horse to out-of-state buyers. At the time, Swagerty said his star 2-year-old would be transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin in New York and likely would run next in the Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful Stakes on Sept. 7 at Saratoga.

Swagerty, who declined to reveal the sale price or identify his partners, said he fielded offers from several interested parties after Forener won an allowance race here July 19 by nine lengths, running 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.

"Negotiations were stressful," Swagerty said at the time. "We had offers for more money in my pocket, but the others wanted 100 percent of the horse. This gives me a chance to follow the horse, even if it's not here."

Forener made it to New York but never reached the Spa.

"He went to Belmont and was going to transfer up to Saratoga if the buyers exercised their option," Swagerty said. "For whatever reason, and I'm not going to get into it, they didn't. He never even had a workout."

Swagerty said Forener returned to trainer Vann Belvoir's barn several weeks ago.

"Initially, we planned to give him a couple of months off and put him back into training," Swagerty said. "Vann was planning to take a small string to Santa Anita, and we wanted to see how Forener would handle the synthetic track. Those plans have changed, and we've decided to rest him and bring him back as a 3-year-old at Emerald. We'll run him here and let him prove himself. If he does well, we'll look to see if we want to try him elsewhere."

The aborted sale denied Forener a chance to run in as many as four stakes at Emerald, including two sprints, the Premio Esmeralda and the Dennis Dodge, that would have been right up his alley.

"I wish we had had the horse and gone through the stakes program here, obviously," Swagerty said. "It was an opportunity, I took a chance, and it didn't work out."