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Forever Together brings win streak to Just a Game

ELMONT, N.Y. – Well-traveled and well-respected, Augustin Stable’s Forever Together will be more than welcomed Saturday afternoon when she heads a field of seven fillies and mares in the 16th running of the Grade 1, $400,000 Just A Game at a mile on Belmont Park’s Widener (outer) Turf Course. The Just A Game (race 7, 3:15 p.m.) is one of four Grade 1 races on the 13-race Belmont Stakes Day card that begins at 11:35 a.m.

The 5-year-old Belong to Me mare has won three in a row and four of her last five starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita last October. In her most recent start, she won Keeneland’s Grade 2 Jenny Wiley on April 11 to kick off her 2009 campaign. The Jenny Wiley was a peculiar race in that it was run over ground generously listed as “good,” yielding early fractions of 25 4/5 and 1:17.

“Our concerns were the ground being too soft and obviously, the lack of pace,” said Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard. “We ran a horse the day before, and it seemed pretty soft. But it dried out some for our race and she handled everything pretty well.”

Third in the Just A Game last year, Forever Together came back to win Saratoga’s Grade 1 Diana, followed by a third in Woodbine’s Grade 2 Canadian. Next came her three-race win streak.

“She didn’t like the soft turf at Woodbine last year, which is why we were concerned at Keeneland,” Sheppard said. “But she really came with her late run again. We are basically on the same schedule as last year, ambitious though it may be. She is a tough, strong mare but a bit fragile, mentally. You have to spread out her races and not give her too much to do. Then again, the really good ones don’t need too much.”

Seventh in the Jenny Wiley was I Lost My Choo, but trainer Phil Serpe threw that race out and brought her back against fellow new York-breds, where she got her confidence back in a victory in the Mount Vernon here on May 17.

“That filly of Jonathan Sheppard’s is one tough horse, and she is on top of her game” Serpe said. “But I think my horse has proven herself. Her race at Gulfstream (a win in the Grade 3 Honey Fox on March 7) was a great race, I thought. She went a mile in 1:33 2/5, so she is capable. But she has to have pretty firm footing to be at her best.”

Jose Lezcano has the mount from post 4.

Also in entered for the Just A Game are Carribean Sunset (IRE), Raw Silk, Captain’s Lover (SAF), Modern Look (GB), Diamondrella (GB)and My Princess Jess.

 

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