Forego, the fabulous one, is "Forego the Frustrated" in terms of the Handicap Triple Crown. There times the 7-year-old gelding has tried to string together victories in teh Metropolitan, Suburban and Brooklyn in one season, only to fail narrowly under the high weight.
Last summer Forego's only mistake during the series occurred in the Suburban when Foolish Pleasure defeated the three-time Horse of the Year by a nose while enjoying a nine-pound pull in the weights. Today, having won the Met Mile on Memorial Day, Forego goes forth under 138 pounds in the Suburban over 1 1/4 miles at Belmont Park.
His assignment is to spot seven rivals from 20 to 34 pounds.
Never has Forego been asked to carry so much weight. It is an impost reserved for the great ones. Whether Forego can take down today's first money of $64,440 from the $107,400 purse is, indeed, questionable. He has won under 137, downing Honest Pleasure by a head in the Marlboro Handicap last fall. But that was the Performance of the Year in the Race of the Year and such efforts never are likely to be repeated.
"I don't know," says trainer Frank Whiteley. "Forego has trained well for the race. He has gallopped strongly between his works. (but look at what the Suburban, what happens then? How much would he have to carry in the Brooklyn. (over 1 1/2 miles on July 23)?"
That is an intriguing question, one that racing secretary Tommy Trotter will have to struggle with if the odds-on favorite wins today. Certainly Trotter has sbown no mercy in the Suburban. Forego captured the Metropolitan by two lengths under 132 pounds, then came back June 13 to take the nine-furlong Nassau County Handicap by a half-length under 136.
Co Host trined by Allen Jerkins; finished second both times.
"The end of the Nassau County looked close but I thought Forego won laughing," Jerkens declared, adding. "I've seen some great horses - Kelso. Tom Fool, Secretariat - but I've never seen a better horse than Forego. He carries hios weight, he's remarkably consistent and he wins easily."
Co Host, 109 pounds, and Majestic Light, 118, are the main threats for Forego today, with On The Sly, 118: Turn And Court, 119; El Pitirre, 110; Quit Little Table, 114; and the 3-year-old Nearly On Time, 104, completing the line-up. The seven horses have won 59 races for earnings of $1,561,343. Forego has won 32 of 51 starts for $1,771,017.
Kelso, with $1,977,896, is the only thoroughbred still ahead of Forego in the dollar drama. The Bohemia Stable gelding swep the Handicap Triple in 1961. Tom Fool in 1953, and Whisk Broom II in 1913, are the only other hadicap runners to have made off with all three parts of the series in one year. Whisk Broom won the Suburban despite carrying 139 pounds.
Bil Shoemaker again rides Forego. The Shoe is unbeaten on the 17-hands gelding in finve appearances.
"They make a great team," Whiteley observed. "Bill just sits back ther and waits for the horse to make the one big run. He gives up some room if he has to in order to make sure Forego isn't interrupted once he gets started."
Forego's rallies from far back are beautiful to behold. Whether the old pro will be able to get up in time under 138 pounds however, promises to make this Fourth of July feature a handicap to remember.