The group of three year olds racing in 1973 included the legendary Secretariat, as well as Sham, Shecky Green, and Stop the Music. Also among them was a big bay gelding by the name of Forego. He wasn't raced as a two-year-old, and made his first career start as a three-year-old in the Florida Derby, running second to Royal and Regal. That season, he also ran fourth behind Secretariat in the Kentucky Derby, placed third in the Withers Stakes, and ran second to Step Nicely in his record setting Jerome Handicap. But his best races were yet to come. In the end of 1973 he began to find his true form, taking the Roamer Handicap and following it up with a victory in the Discovery Handicap, ending the season with $188,909 in earnings and nine victories in his eighteen races.
He began his 1974 season with a win in the Donn Handicap over the five-year-old True Knight. When the two met again in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, Forego was once again victorious, and in the Widener Handicap he made it three for three, once again beating the older horse.
After his successes in Florida, Forego headed for New York, where he won the Carter Handicap under 129 pounds. The track handicapper finally beat him in the Metropolitan Mile, where Forego ran second under 134 pounds, giving away twenty two pounds to the winner, Arbees Boy. After a second in the Nassau County Handicap, Forego took his revenge in the Brooklyn Handicap, running a mile and three-sixteenths in 1:54 4/5 while Arbees Boy finished third.
In the Suburban Handicap, Forego carried 131 pounds, giving True Knight the opportunity to avenge his losses in Florida, which he did, while Forego ran third. In his next start, Forego was unplaced behind Boy Spruce in a sloppy Marlboro Cup, but came back to win the Woodward Stakes, Vosburgh Handicap, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup, tying up Horse of the Year honors, having proved his ability to both spring and stay, with eight victories ranging in distance from seven furlongs to two miles in thirteen starts that season.
The beginning of Forego's five-year-old season included wins in the Seminole Handicap, the Widener Handicap, and the Carter Handicap, carrying still more weight each time. Then he ran third in the Metropolitan Mile, carrying 136 pounds while Gold and Myrrh won under 121, with Stop the Music second.
Giving away twenty-three pounds, Forego once again recovered his winning form, taking the Brooklyn Handicap for the second time and following it up with a win in the Suburban Handicap. Next, Forego ran fourth while carrying the high weight in the Governor's Stakes, giving away nineteen pounds to three-year-old champion Wajima, nine pounds to Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure, and four pounds to millionaire Ancient Title.
Wajima beat him again in the Marlboro Cup, this time carrying 119 to Forego's 129, but Forego avenged the two losses in the Woodward Stakes, beating Wajima while Avator, the winner of the 1975 Belmont Stakes, ran third. Forego was scratched from the Jockey Club Gold Cup after pulling a suspensory, and ended the season with six wins, one second, one third, and one fourth in nine starts, once again earning Horse of the Year honors.
Frank Whiteley, who had trained Ruffian, and his son David took over for Sherrill Ward as Forego's trainer in 1976, and after an easy win in a purse at Belmont, Forego was finally successful in the Metropolitan Mile, beating 1975 Preakness winner Master Derby under 130 pounds. He then won the Nassau County Handicap under rider Jacinto Vasquez, and beat Lord Rebeau and Foolish Pleasure in the Brooklyn Handicap. Only losing a photo finish with Foolish Pleasure in the Suburban Handicap kept Forego from winning the Handicap Triple Crown.
After a third place finish in the Haskell Stakes, Forego won the Woodward in 1:45 4/5, giving twenty pounds to second place Dance Spell. Honest Pleasure was third.
His finest victory probably came in the 1976 Marlboro Cup. Forego was assigned 137 pounds, and when it rained, Tommy Trotter, the racing secretary at Belmont Park, was worried that with the combination of mud and weight, the great horse could be hurt. His comment that the crowd was very likely to string him up for assigning such an impossible burden to the popular horse was not that far fetched. In the stretch, Honest Pleasure was on top, and Forego did the impossible. In one of the most sensational stretch drives in racing history, Forego made up the ten lengths to catch and beat the lightly weighted leader. Once again, Forego was Horse of the Year.
In 1977, "Forego Forever" tee shirts were popular among fans, and Forego won four times in seven starts, finishing second twice and earning $267,740. Then in 1978, Forego was retired after running fifth in the Suburban. Calcium deposits were found on his sesamoids, and further races could have shattered his ankles. On July 17, 1978, The Blood-Horse carried the announcement, which included the following tribute to the great horse:
"There is a quality that manifests itself in stress of competition, in a market, a game, or a war. It is comprised of determination, and courage, and gallantry. It is called valor. It commands the respect of all, wherever found, in friend or foe, man or horse. Forego had it."
In September, the great gelding said farewell to his fans in New York by leading the post parade for the Marlboro Cup, in which Triple Crown champions Affirmed and Seattle Slew were meeting for the first time.
Forego was voted Horse of the Year three times, in 1974, 1975, and 1976, winning thirty four races and almost two million dollars. In fourteen major races, he hauled a burden of 130 pounds or more to victory. Forego spent his retirement as a pensioner at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, where thousands of tourists visited him every year.
|Lady Golconda||Hasty Road||Roman||Sir Gallahad III|
|Girlea||Bull Lea||Bull Dog|
|For more information read Forego by Bill Heller|
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