AMSTERDAM STAKES | PURSE: $200,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 2 | 6 1/2 FURLONGS
For the third straight race, Perretti Racing Stable's Forty Tales swooped from well off a ferocious early pace and got up in time in Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga. The Todd Pletcher sophomore was part of a huge weekend for the barn, coming one day after Palace Malice's victory in the Jim Dandy at the Spa and shortly before Verrazano's annihilation of the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth.
Having made the most of similar set-ups in the Woody Stephens and Derby Trial in his last pair, Forty Tales extended his streak and burnished his credentials for the King's Bishop on Travers Day, August 24.
Forty Tales was anchored near the rear of the field as Mentor Cane blasted to the lead through an opening quarter in :21 ⅗. Traveling well within himself approaching the far turn, Mentor Cane failed to handle the bend, veered out several paths, and lost his position.
The chasing Mico Margarita and Rainbow Heir pounced through that gift opening on the inside. Rainbow Heir had his head in front when clocking a torrid :44 ⅖ for the half-mile, but Mico Margarita rode the rail to a slim lead as they dueled into the stretch. Mentor Cane, not done yet, regrouped and came again on the outside. Mico Margarita put away the weakening Rainbow Heir, and safely held the green Mentor Cane, only to find Forty Tales arriving on the scene late.
Rolling past Mico Margarita in the final yards, Forty Tales won going away by three-quarters of a length in a final time of 1:15 ⅗ for 6 ½ fast-track furlongs. The 5-2 favorite returned $7.30 to win and advanced his scorecard to 7-5-1-0, $579,789.
"He found himself really far back early," said winning rider Joel Rosario, who was celebrating his fourth victory on the card. "But at the five-sixteenths, you could really see he was moving. I didn't know if we were going to get there or not, but he really tried hard."
"He likes this distance," assistant trainer Tristan Barry said. "He does his thing; he comes from off the pace and runs them down. He seems comfortable doing that, and we're happy he likes it.
"Anytime you have a horse like that, you like to see a fast pace on the front end. When that happened, it set up for him."
Mico Margarita held on gamely for second, with the rallying Salutos Amigos a length back in third and Mentor Cane another three-quarters of a length away in fourth. Declan's Warrior, Rainbow Heir and Cat Five Hurricane rounded out the order under the wire.
"He [Mico Margarita] ran really good," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "He came back pretty quick out of the Carry Back [his score at Calder on July 6], but the horse came out of that race in good shape, and I thought he ran as hard as he could today."
Forty Tales captured his career debut at Aqueduct in late November and opened his sophomore season with a convincing allowance score at Parx in early January. Shipped to South Florida, he just missed when making his stakes bow in the February 2 Hutcheson, rallying to finish a close second, but followed with a dull fifth in the March 2 Swale. That race looks like an aberration for talented sprinter/middle distance specialist, who hasn't lost since. Forty Tales rebounded to take the April 27 Derby Trial by a neck at a one-turn mile, and flew late to garner the seven-furlong Woody Stephens on the Belmont undercard.
"We'll just try and find another seven-furlong event for him and go from there," Barry said. "The Vosburgh [on September 28] is an option at Belmont, and the King's Bishop. We'll see. I'm sure we'll talk it over with the owners and go from there.
"I don't know that you're going to get the kind of pace he needs going a mile. We won't try and reinvent the wheel too much."
Bred by the Randal Family Trust in Kentucky, Forty Tales was sold for $80,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling. The Tale of the Cat colt is a full brother to the stakes-placed Face the Cat and a half-brother to multiple stakes scorer and Grade 2-placed Bear Character.
Forty Tales is out of the multiple stakes-placed Forty Niner mare Forty Love, who is a full sister to multiple stakes queen and Grade 1-placed Footing. This is the family of Grade 2 winners Banned and Masseuse; fellow three-year-old Catrageous, 2 ¼-length winner of Saturday's Wine Country at Santa Rosa; as well as Argentinean Group 1 victress Peristaltica.