09/01/2010 3:45PM

Wilkes relieved with crowd entered in Forego

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Warrior's Reward wins the Grade 1 Carter.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – A surprisingly large field of 11 was entered in Saturday’s Grade 1, $250,000 Forego Stakes at Saratoga, and that was just fine with Ian Wilkes, trainer of Warrior’s Reward.

Before entries closed, Wilkes feared that far fewer horses than that would be entered, and that Vineyard Haven would wind up as the main speed in the race. But the entries of Checklist, Big Drama, Charitable Man and Omniscient should ensure a lively pace for the late-running Warrior’s Reward, who drew post 9.

“It’s not going to be easy, Grade 1’s are never easy, but I find you get a truer race when more horses are in there,” Wilkes said.

In the Forego, Warrior’s Reward will be making his first start since he finished sixth behind Quality Road in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont on May 31. Wilkes gave Warrior’s Reward the month of June off and started back with him in early July.

Warrior’s Reward returned to the work tab on July 23 and breezed seven times since then, including a half-mile move in 49.68 seconds Wednesday morning.

“I allowed myself no mistakes – the timing had to be perfect,” Wilkes said. “Everything’s gone according to plan so far.”

Warrior’s Reward has won 2 of 4 starts this year, including the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct by a nose over Musket Man. He also finished second to Atta Boy Roy in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs on Derby Day.

Vineyard Haven drew post 2 and will be part of a favored Godolphin Stable entry along with Girolamo, who will be making his first start since the Breeders’ Cup Classic last October. At Saratoga, Vineyard Haven won the Grade 1 Hopeful at 2, was disqualified from first in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at 3, and won the James Marvin Stakes on opening day in his 4-year-old debut.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has the uncoupled entry of the speedy Checklist and the late-running Bribon. Pletcher said he would evaluate the field before deciding whether Checklist would start. Checklist drew the 10 post, while Bribon will break from the rail.

“He’s a horse that likes to be on the lead,” Pletcher said of Checklist. “If we think he can make the lead we’ll probably take a shot at the Forego.’’

Big Drama, second to Majesticperfection in the Alfred Vanderbilt, drew post 4.

Capt. Candyman Can back to work

Wilkes said Capt. Candyman, Can, who was placed first by the stewards in last year’s Grade 1 King’s Bishop, returned to the work tab Monday, working four furlongs in 55 seconds at the Skylight Training Center in Kentucky.

Capt. Candyman Can has not raced since finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last year at Santa Anita. He was in training at Palm Meadows during the winter, but a knee chip was diagnosed that needed to be surgically removed.

Wilkes said he hopes to get Capt. Candyman Can, a gelded son of Candy Ride, back to the races later this year, but will focus on a 5-year-old campaign for him.

“That’s going to be the hardest part, finding the right race for him,” Wilkes said. “I might have to ship him somewhere to find the right race. He’s a gelding, I gave him a little longer. Let’s plan on having a great year next year with him.”

Wine Police needs to step up for Asmussen

Trainer Steve Asmussen knows he can’t replace a horse as talented as Kantharos, who was retired on Tuesday after suffering fractured sesamoids following a workout Monday over the Oklahoma training track. But perhaps Wine Police can help ease the pain of losing Kantharos.

Wine Police, a 7 3/4-length debut winner here on July 24, will step into Grade 1 company when he starts in Monday’s $250,000 Hopeful Stakes for 2-year-olds at seven furlongs.

“Ton of ability, but he better step up against those three or four,” Asmussen said.

A short field is expected for the Hopeful including Boys at Tosconova, Settle for Medal, Sovereign Default, and Stay Thirsty.

Asmussen was not planning to run Kantharos in the Hopeful. He had a spot picked out at Monmouth Park at the end of September. But after the colt won his first three starts by more than 28 lengths, Asmussen is left to wonder what might have been.

“You wanted to see how good that horse could be,” Asmussen said. “All the respect for his potential.”

Boys at Tosconova, who won a maiden race at Belmont on July 2, was credited with a five-furlong work in 1:05.99 Wednesday morning over Saratoga’s main track. While Dutrow said he wouldn’t take issue with the clocker’s final time, he didn’t necessarily believe it.

“I’m not going to question it, because I don’t care,” Dutrow said. “I know our horse went great, I know Ramon [Dominguez] is very happy with him, I know I’m very happy with him. That time doesn’t mean anything to me.”

Regal Ransom wins; Timber Reserve euthanized

Regal Ransom returned to the winner’s circle with a 3 1/4-length, front-running victory over Cool Coal Man in a stakes-caliber allowance race here on Wednesday.

The race was marred by a fatal injury suffered by Timber Reserve, the 2007 Pennsylvania Derby winner. Timber Reserve fractured both sesamoids in his right front leg and was euthanized back at the barn. Timber Reserve won 5 races from 20 starts and earned $770,957.

“He was such a nice, cool horse to be around, he gave us everything he had. I never thought it would end like this,” trainer John Kimmel said.

Meanwhile, Regal Ransom broke on top under Alan Garcia, carved out fractions of 24.73 seconds, 48.33, and 1:11.99 for six furlongs, turned back a challenge from Cool Coal Man at the quarter pole and covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.33. Regal Ransom returned $3.60.

“He had his ears pricked coming out of the gate, and I thought he just relaxed a lot better than he did first time out,” said Rick Mettee, the assistant trainer here for Godolphin Stable. “It was good that he was able to get into a small field and not a lot of pace in there, because he’s been in a lot of tough spots. It’s good for him to win a race again.”

It was Regal Ransom’s first win since he beat Blame in last year’s Grade 2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

Banker’s Buy heads Saratoga Dew

Banker’s Buy, a good-looking allowance winner at Belmont on July 8, looms the horse to beat in the $70,000 Saratoga Dew Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles.

Banker’s Buy, trained by Nick Zito, was scratched out of a race here earlier than the meet when she flipped in the paddock. Her competition includes Don’t Forget Gil, Landlash, My Dinah, Wicked Diva and Big Brownie.