Forever Together scored a repeat victory in the $500,000 Diana Handicap for fillies and mares, and Kensei took the $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Ninth of 10 at the midpoint of the stretch turn, the late-running Forever Together launched a powerful, determined wide move entering straight that carried the gray 5-year-old to a head decision with Julien Leparoux in the saddle. The race, run over Saratoga's main turf course, marked heavy favorite Forever Together's second victory in three starts this year.
Owned by Augustine Stable and trained by Jonathan Sheppard, Forever Together was voted the champion older turf-course female of 2008 after her victory in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf in October at Santa Anita.
"To keep running that well at that level takes a tremendous horse," Sheppard said. "I was a little concerned that they were being strung out more than I expected, but (Leparoux) eased up into a nice striking position around the turn. Keeping in mind that Forever Together hadn't run in a while and was giving weight to the other horse, it was an outstanding performance."
Forever Together ran 1 1/8 miles over a course labeled good in 1:48.21 and earned $300,000 to push her career earnings past $2.5 million. She paid $3.90, $3, and $2.30. Carribean Sunset paid $7.40 ad $4.40. Rutherienne was third and paid $3 to show.
Kensei, ridden by Edgar Prado, emerged from a phalanx of horses in contention three-sixteenths of a mile from the wire and separated himself from five opponents in a 2 1/4-length win over favorite Warrior's Reward.
The win followed on the heels of Kensei's victory in the July 4 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park, and it establishes his position among the leading contenders for the $1 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 29.
The late-developing son of Mr. Greeley, Kensei is trained by Steve Asmussen for Stonestreet Stables and Gulf Coast Farms. He ran 1 1/8 miles over a fast main track in 1:47.90 and earned $300,000.
He paid $7.50, $3.60 and $2.40. Warrior's Reward paid $4.40 and $2.60, and Charitable Man paid $2.30 to show.