Reprinted from BloodHorse
A strong late kick under jockey Manny Franco got Forty Under to the winner’s circle after his three-quarter-length score in the Pilgrim Stakes (G3T). The 2-year-old race, run at 1 1/16 miles over a yielding turf course at Belmont Park Sept. 29, finished in 1:44.37.
Forty Under, a son of Uncle Mo —Argent Affair, by Black Tie Affair, came into the Pilgrim off a 1 1/2-length score in a maiden race on the grass at Saratoga Race Course at the same trip. His debut, going six furlongs on the dirt at the Spa, resulted in a ninth-place finish, beaten 17 3/4 lengths.
The win, for Bill Parcell’s August Dawn Farm and trainer Jeremiah Englehart, came over third choice Somelikeithotbrown. Social Paranoia, who finished second to Forty Under in his maiden win, came in third in the Pilgrim. Favored Opry, winner of Saratoga’s With Anticipation Stakes (G3T), finished fourth.
“He broke a bit slow, so I had to sit,” Franco said. “I had to go to ‘plan B,’ but it worked.”
Forty Under didn’t break as slowly as Spirit Animal, who bobbled at the start. It was longshot Ole Mole who broke on top and quickly went to the front, where he set an opening quarter-mile fraction of :23.97 while being chased by Dashing Dan and Somelikeithotbrown. The half went in :48.84.
The field began to bunch after three-quarters in 1:14.21, as Opry came with a wide move under John Velazquez. Somelikeithotbrown hit the front as the leader wilted and opened up a sizable lead in the stretch after a mile in 1:38.22, but Forty Under ran him down at the wire. It was two lengths back to Social Paranoia, who topped Opry by 3 1/2 lengths.
“After his maiden race, he took the right steps forward,” Englehart said. “I thought Manny did a great job taking him a little bit off the hot pace and the horse closed and did well.
“He was early developing. I was very disappointed after his first start, but I thought he may be a little bit more turfy after a couple of people mentioned it to me, so when we put him on the turf it was a night-and-day difference.
“One advantage he has even on the softer turf, he’s not a real big, thick horse. He’s slender, good-sized, but still pretty sleek; not a big horse. It was nice because in a maiden race, it’s always a pretty big advantage sometimes to be in the clear. Even on the turf, you want to be in that first tier (because) you don’t know how they’re going to handle everything in the back. We were going to be forwardly placed. We had the inside from where we were (but) you want to be out and you don’t want to be shuffled back. He backed him off the horse and Manny made the right adjustments to win the race.”
James Herbener Jr. consigned the Pilgrim winner to the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, where August Dawn Farm paid $180,000. Forty Under was bred in Kentucky by Cedar Hill.