Forego is entered in the 92nd running of the $107,900 Suburban Handicap today at Belmont Park. Should he win the $64,740 first prize in the mile-and-a-quarter event, he wold becopme the world's leading money-winning racehorse, his $2,003, 697 total eclipsing Kelso's $1,977,895, the record since 1966.
There is an even-money chance, however, that Forego will not run today. It rained yesterday in New York and more precipitation was forecast for early this morning. The Belmont strip dries out quickly. Should the racing surface still be drying out by the 5:30 p.m. post time, look for trainer Frank Whiteley to scratch the three-time Horse of the Year.
Forego is 8 years old now, an old warhorse by any standard. Eight is the age that finally, stopped Kelso, the great weight-carrying gelding of the early '60s. An Forego has hos problems physcially. Only the best of care has enabled him to last this long.
Yet the Grand Old Man returned to competition here two weeks ago and defeated a good band of sprinters at their own game, ripping off seven furlongs in [WORD ILLEGIBLE]. He worked the same distance in 1.24 last week indicating the ankle miseries that forced him to stop short of seeking a fourth straight national championship last fall are under control, at least for the time being.
Don't expect Forego to appear in many more races. His owner, Martha Gerry, is determined to give him the advantage of any doubts.He is being asked to take only one race at a time, and he will be retired at the slightest trace of troulbe. Gerry and Whitely simply are hoping he can go to his well-earned reward with the earnings title in his column.
Forego's winning the Suburban will not be easy, even if the weather cooperates and he gets to the starting gate. The gelding's luck in this Handicap Triple Crown event has never been good, and today's opposition is solid, headed by Cox's Ridge.
The Suburban is the main reason Forego never has been able to string the Metroploitan, the Suburban and the Brooklyn in a row, this joining Whisk Broom II. Tom Fool and Kelso on the prestigious list of triple heroes. He was third under 131 pounds to True Knight in 1973 as a 4-year-old; victorious, under 124 pounds in 1975; beaten by a nose under 134 pounds by Foolish Pleasure in 1976, and a neck behind Quiet Little Table last summer, when that foe was in receipt of 24 pounds from the favorite.
Quiet Little Table is back again, this time under 117 pounds and with Steve Cauthen the jockey. Quiet Little Table, recent winner of the seven-furlong Assault Handicap, will be the third or fourth choice in the holiday wagering at about 5 to 1.
Forego is the 6 to 5 overnight favorite, followed by Cox's Ridge, 5 to 2, and Upper Nile, 4 to 1. Completing the field are the longshots Great Contractor, Family Doctor, Nearly On Time and Pumpkin Moonshine. Forego, assigned 132 pounds, is asked to concede Cox's Ridge two pounds and Pumpkin Moonshine 27, while Quiet Little Table is third in the weights under 117.
The 1977 Suburban winner appears particularly dangerous along with Upper Nile, which is assigned 113 pounds. The 4-year-old Nijinsky II colt was impressive in defeating Cox's Ridge in the recent Nassau County Handicap over a mile and an eight for his third consecutive triumph, and he bounced back with a seven-furlong work in 1.222/5 Thursday.
Jorge Velasquez rides Upper Nile. Same Maple substitues for his injured brother, Eddie, on Cox's Ridge, the 4-year-old olt which grabbed the quarter of his right forefoot in the Nassau County. That injury was believed to be serious enough, at first, to keep Cox's Ridge out of the Suburban. But he recovered quickly. Cox's Ridge captured the Metropolitan carrying 130 pounds in a Forego-type performance, circling his field from far off the pace.
Bill Shoemaker again has the mount on Forego, after hustling back from Europe. The Shoe rode Hawaiian Sound to a close-up third-place finish in the Irish Sweeps Derby at the Curragh Saturday.
"I've never sat on a better horse than Forego," Shoemaker says. That statement covers a fortune in furlongs. Forego's place in racing's history book is assured, of course, whether he tops Kelso's dollar mark or not.
Kelso was the yardstick by which great horses were measured for class from 1960 through 1964. Forego has served the same purpose from 1974. When the bugle blew for the toughest of racing's cavalty charges, these two were there. Weather permitting. Forego is not about to start ducking the opposition today.