08/29/2013 4:53PM

Saratoga: Sage Valley could offer value in Forego

Barbara D. Livingston
Sage Valley (left) has won five of his last six starts, including the Grade 3 James Marvin Stakes at Saratoga on July 19.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Fast Bullet and Justin Phillip make up a formidable entry for owner Ahmed Zayat and figure to be tough to beat in Saturday’s $500,000 Forego.

Fast Bullet looked like the fastest horse on the planet in winning the Grade 2 True North Handicap last out. And Justin Phillip flattered that performance by bouncing back from his second-place finish in the True North to win the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap four weeks later.

But for those who think Fast Bullet is a question mark off another layoff and a last-minute barn change and believe Justin Phillip could be a bounce candidate exiting a career-best effort, there are some interesting alternatives and wagering opportunities to be had in the Grade 1 Forego.

Sage Valley, for instance, could slip beneath the radar just a bit and offer some value in the seven-furlong Forego despite having won five of his last six starts, including the Grade 3 James Marvin here last out. Sage Valley was soundly beaten by Fast Bullet and Justin Phillip in the True North, but trainer Rudy Rodriguez said that race was strictly a throw-out, as far as he was concerned.

“I think we ran him back a bit too quick; he ran a big race at Laurel after being off seven or eight months,” Rodriguez said, referring to Sage Valley’s victory in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap. “Then he lost his footing coming out of the gate on the off track and didn’t get a good trip in the True North. I just put a line through that race. He’s been training very well, he likes this track, and seven-eighths is what he needed in his last start. I was hoping to draw a little further outside, but there is a lot of speed, so we don’t need to go crazy from the inside post.”

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Jackson Bend will be competing in the Forego for the third straight year. He won the race in 2011 but finished last in defense of that title last summer after being knocked cold during a freak training accident just a week earlier. Stanley Gold, who had Jackson Bend both as a 2-year-old and again during the winter of his 4-year-old campaign, will be the trainer of record at Saratoga for the first time Saturday.

“He’s doing great,” said Gold, who is based at Calder. “I just hope he has better luck finding his way through along the inside this time than he has in his last two starts. He was racing near the rail but taken wide into the stretch, which cost him at least a placing both times.”

Jackson Bend finished third in both the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder and Gulfstream Park’s Housebuster Stakes in his last two starts. He is winless since capturing the Grade 1 Carter Handicap for trainer Nick Zito in April 2012.

Fast Bullet was transferred to trainer D. Wayne Lukas from Bob Baffert last week and will be making only his second start in almost nine months. His lone setback in five career starts came in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

“I really haven’t had him long enough to know exactly what to expect on Saturday,” Lukas said.

Justin Phillip finally got his much-deserved first Grade 1 win when rallying to a two-length decision over Bahamian Squall in the Vanderbilt on Aug. 4, earning a 109 Beyer Speed Figure.

Lea, second and third behind Horse of the Year Wise Dan in his last two starts on grass, will try dirt for just the second time in the Forego. Lea was an easy winner going a mile over a sloppy track under high-priced optional-claiming conditions this spring at Churchill Downs.

Strapping Groom, who has won a pair of overnight stakes since being claimed for $35,000 on May 24, Saratoga Snacks, Golddigger’s Boy, and Javerre complete the field.

LatanyaRPowell More than 1 year ago
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matthew_melton More than 1 year ago
Is ZAYAT insane? Baffert to Lukas? May as well let me train him. If Justin Phillip doesn't show up, that entry loses
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Jackson Bend got STEAMROLLED last year in that accident. I had internal bleeding just hearing about it. So throw out last years Forego. I think he fits well here. Love the little horse too. Its gonna be fun watching him back in action. And Paynter on the same day.
gradygulch More than 1 year ago
MD Sprint is at Pimlico RuRod...they still run the Preakness there too
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
I think this race and a couple msw races at saratoga this Saturday is best betting races on card. My pick is the longest shot on board goldiggers boy.I am going to bet win/show on goldiggers boy. Jackson bend ran in race with shackleford. He is not here today won this race before will use in exotics. Justin Phillip comes from the most common stakes race for winners in the last 20 years the Vanderbilt. Shocking that 6 winners came from non stakes races. 2 of the last four winners come out of James Marvin. I am going to take the big step up the horse that is from the allowance race. It is only 7 furlongs. If it Was a grade one route I would gamble on a longevity like this one. Goldiggers boy is my pick. Jackson bend, Justin Phillips in my exotics.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
I meant to say that if it was a route race I would not bet on a longevity like this. My keyboard is so stupid. Sorry for the mistake and go goldiggers boy!!!
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Ha ha still cant get it right. Amazon kindle is garbage
AzHorsePlayer More than 1 year ago
Sorry but I would be more than happy to give you 100-1 on Goldgiggers Boy to Win this race...He is a race filler with ZERO CHANCE to WIN
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
I know he is a race filler but like I said last 20 years 6 winners came non stakes races. It is only seven furlongs. If it was a route would look elsewhere. We all in horse racing like these crazy I told you so picks. Like they guy who bet arcangues in 93. This year I am taking goldiggers boy does not look that bad.