February 20, 2024

Elite Power faces Gunite in Forego; Arabian Lion, New York Thunder square off in Allen Jerkens

Elite Power (left) just caught Gunite to make it eight straight in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (Photo by Angelo Lieto/Coglianese Photos)

Saturday’s Travers undercard will feature a pair of Grade 1 sprint stakes for males, and the $500,000 Forego and $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial both feature exciting matchups at Saratoga.

Forego (G1)

Champion male sprinter Elite Power will put his eight-race win streak on the line against four rivals in the seven-furlong Forego. Owned by Juddmonte and trained by Bill Mott, the five-year-old son of Curlin exits a determined victory in the six-furlong A.G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) on July 29, rallying to nail Gunite by a head on the wire.

Regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. will be back up on the stalker, and Elite Power is perfect from a pair of starts at Saratoga and at the distance.

Gunite proved no match when second to Elite Power in the lucrative Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3) in Saudi Arabia earlier this season, but the four-year-old colt gave his rival all he could handle when just missing in the Vanderbilt. Winner of the Amsterdam (G2) at Saratoga last year, Gunite has won his last two starts at seven furlongs, and Tyler Gafflione retains the mount on the Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred son of Gun Runner for Steve Asmussen.

High Oak, Pipeline, and Synthesis complete the field.

H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1)

Six three-year-olds will contest the seven-furlong Allen Jerkens, and New York Thunder will put his unbeaten record on the line following an impressive 7 1/2-length win in the six-furlong Amsterdam that netted him a field-best 108 Brisnet Speed rating.  

Arabian Lion promises to prove a stiff test for the up-and-coming sophomore, registering a 107 Speed figure for his victory in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens (G1) last out, and Grade 3 victor Verifying figures to appreciate the cutback to a sprint.

New York Thunder opened his racing career last fall with a 6 1/2-length romp over maiden rivals on Gulfstream’s Tapeta track, and the Jorge Delgado-trained colt concluded his juvenile season with a turf allowance win. The son of Nyquist returned this year with a 7 1/2-length win in the Woodstock S. on Woodbine’s Tapeta in late April, and New York Thunder crushed rivals on the front end when trying dirt in the Amsterdam on July 28. Gaffalione will be back up.

Arabian Lion appears to be training forwardly in preparation for Bob Baffert, drilling a pair of recent bullet workouts at Del Mar, including a six-furlong move in 1:11 1/5, and the Justify colt has won two straight stakes. He returns off a 77-day layoff with John Velazquez.

Runner-up in the Champagne (G1) and Blue Grass (G1), Verifying broke through with his first stakes win in the Indiana Derby (G3) on July 8. The Brad Cox-trained son of Justify broke his maiden the first time out on the Travers undercard last year, and the speedy colt will add the services of Flavien Prat for his return to a sprint.

Fort Bragg exits a nose win in the one-mile Dwyer (G3) at Belmont Park on July 1, and the Baffert-trained colt was flattered when runner-up Saudi Crown came back to miss by a nose to Forte in the Jim Dandy (G2). Joel Rosario picks up the assignment on the intriguing stalker, and Fort Bragg has registered triple-digit Speed ratings in his last two outings.

Rounding out the cast are multiple stakes winner Drew’s Gold and Iowa Derby upsetter One in Vermillion, third in the West Virginia Derby (G3) three weeks ago.