Forego contenders may run into heavy traffic

Larry Jones wasn’t thrilled with his post position for today’s Grade I Forego at Saratoga Race Cours

Larry Jones wasn’t thrilled with his post position for today’s Grade I Forego at Saratoga Race Course.

The line for the Complaint Department forms to the left, though.

Kodiak Kowboy, the 2008 Amsterdam winner trained by Jones, will break from the No. 2 hole in the loaded 12-horse field, and if there’s anyone less enamored of the draw, it’s Godolphin Stable’s Rick Mettee, who will send 2008 Jim Dandy runner-up Pyro from the rail.

Both horses are closers who will need to get through traffic to win. The good news for them is that it looks like there’s some potential for a pace meltdown in front.

Then it could come down to which rider, Gabriel Saez on 5-2 favorite Kodiak Kowboy or John Velazquez on 4-1 Pyro, finds clear sailing in the stretch of the seven-furlong Woodward undercard feature. Post time for the Forego will be approximately 5:15 p.m.

“He’s obviously going to need some luck to win it, but we feel like we have a horse that’s going the right way, anyway,” said Mettee, the Godolphin assistant who oversees Saeed bin Suroor’s East Coast string.

“The two hole, if they had let me choose my spot, is not the one I would’ve chosen,” Jones said. “But at least it’s better than the one. We’ll just see, he’ll have to contend with traffic, because he doesn’t have enough speed to get clear early, he’s going to be stuck in there. Getting the trip, that’s going to be the tricky thing.”

Pyro, who is coming off knee surgery, will run in the Godolphin blue for only the second time, after being purchased privately this winter and transferred from Steve Asmussen to Mettee.

He ran second by a half-length to Gold Trippi, who is also in the Forego field, in the ungraded James Marvin on July 29.

He represents the latest threat from a stable that has had a spectacular meet in graded stakes, especially the Grade I’s.

“For his first race of the year, it was a pretty good race,” Mettee said. “He hung a little bit the last part, and probably got tired. He’s just not a great work horse or anything, so we kind of figured he’d need the race. He’s going to have to run faster than he did to win this race, so he’s going to have to come on, but we feel he has come on.”

For Pyro and Kodiak Kowboy, seven furlongs is right up their alley.

Jones said it’s unlikely Kodiak Kowboy will point toward the Breeders’ Cup, since the Sprint is six furlongs, and he has run on conventional dirt his last 11 races.

Pyro was eighth in the Kentucky Derby last year and third behind Colonel John and Mambo in Seattle in the Travers. He finished his 3-year-old season with a sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

“It looks like most of the speed drew outside, so hopefully, the field fans out pretty good,” Mettee said. “Johnny rode him last time, so he’s got a feel for him. But he’s a horse that will give you a good quarter-mile run. I think you’ll see him running on at the end, we’ll see how many he gets by. I definitely think he’s sitting on a good race.”

Kodiak Kowboy, fifth in the King’s Bishop on Travers Day last year, was third to Fabulous Strike in the Grade II A.G. Vanderbilt on Aug. 9.

He has a 2-0-1 record from four starts at Saratoga and is 3-1-0 from seven lifetime starts at seven furlongs.

“Hopefully, we got a trip over the track, which some of these horses didn’t do, and he’s always run well at Saratoga,” Jones said. “I don’t know that he needed a trip over the track, but through my training career, I’ve never seen a trip over the track hurt you. Not that I was wanting to use that strictly as a prep, we intended to win it, but at the very worst, it served as a prep.”

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