Nearly on Time, ridden by Steve Cauthen, won the 50th running of the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga today as three-time Horse of the Year Forego finished last in the rain-reduced field of seven.
American History, longshot ridden by Ruben Hernandez, was second 4 1/2 lengths behind the winner. Third, another 4 2/4 lengths back, was last year's Whitney winner. Dancing Gun, with Angel Cordero Jr. up.
Forego, ridden by Willie Shoemaker, Carried top weight of 136 pounds, 21 pounds more than any other horse in the $75,000 added race and 33 more than the winner. The 7-year-old Forego got away sixth, immediately began falling back and was never a factor as he finished 18 lengths back.
Nearly On Time, a 3-year-old, led through the 1 1/8 miles and was timed in [WORD ILLEGIBLE] over the sloppy track. The winner, lightweighted at 108 paid $8.40, $4.40 and $3.40. American History, at 12.1, returned $8.20 and $4.60. Dancing Gun paid $4.60.
The victory was Cauthen's 300th in New York this year, breaking Jorge Velasquez New York record established last year.
Mr.(Leroy) Jolley told me to go for the break and to keep him going. Cauthen said,"I had to push my horse a bit after the break because Cordero (on Dancing Gun) tried for the lead. But once we striaghtened out on the back stretch. I was able to take a little tired hold and he relaxed just fine . . . He got a little tired near the end but by that time he had it won."
Despite a lighter weight than in his last two defeats. Forego could not find his footing in the ankle-deep mud left by day-long showers. It was the first time Forego has finished worse than fourth since he placed fifth in the 1973 blue grass strakes.
Fractions were :23 2-5, :46 3-5, 1:10 3-5 and 1:36 1-5. The crowd of 28,819 had made Forego the favourite for the 26th consecutive time.
Quiet Little Table, which defeated Forego in the Suburban, and Nalees Rialto were early scratches, with tha second favourite. Majestic Light, and EI Pitirre and Wise Philip being scratched later in the day.
Cauthens first victory in a race worth more than $50,000 was his his326th this year.