December 5, 2022

Strapping Groom provides some solace with Forego upset

Last updated: 8/31/13 6:31 PM

One day after the loss of popular New York-bred gelding Saginaw, Strapping
Groom gave the connections of Drawing Away Stable and David Jacobson something
to celebrate in Saturday’s $500,000
posting a wire-to-wire upset in the seven-furlong Grade 1 event at Saratoga. The
reformed claimer paid $32.40 to win as a 15-1 outsider among seven betting

Junior Alvarado, who also rode 10-time stakes winner Saginaw for trainer
Jacobson, had the mount. Saginaw had to be euthanized after breaking down in
Friday’s third race at Saratoga.

Strapping Groom broke running from his outside post and dueled with Fast
Bullet down the backstretch, completing the opening quarter-mile in :22 4/5 on
the sloppy track. He began to edge away from that rival on the far turn and
passed the half-mile mark in :45 1/5 with a one-length advantage.

The six-year-old entered the stretch drive full of run, extending his lead to
2 1/2 lengths with only a furlong remaining, but Jackson Bend came charging from
well off the pace to make it interesting late. Strapping Groom started drifting
out in deep stretch but had enough in reserve to deny his fast-closing rival by
a half-length, stopping the teletimer in 1:22 1/5.

“We were fortunate to have an outside post,” Jacobson said via phone after
the race. “The horse likes to be on the lead, and Junior’s instructions were to
get the lead if he could. After he put away Fast Bullet, I was pretty confident
he was going to win.”

“I tried to make him comfortable the whole way. He handled the track pretty
good,” Alvarado said. “Turning for home, I knew I would have something left.
When I asked him, he made a great run. I felt him (Jackson Bend) coming through
along the rail, but I knew I was close enough to the wire. I knew it was my race

Jackson Bend easily took second by another three lengths at 8-1. The former
Grade 1 winner had shown signs of decline after returning from a lengthy hiatus
this summer in South Florida with three setbacks, but the six-year-old appeared
back in form Saturday with a commendable performance.

“He gave me his best effort. I’m very satisfied with the way he did it,”
jockey Javier Castellano said of Jackson Bend. “Unfortunately we got second
place. I think he ran huge. I had a beautiful trip. I was right where I wanted
to be.

“I wish that the pace was a little quicker — 22 (4/5 seconds) for those kind
of horses, really good horses, it’s kind of easy for them. If I had gotten
21.44-type fractions I think I would have won the race.”

Justin Phillip, who was favored at 3-4 with more highly-regarded entrymate
Fast Bullet, wound up a non-threatening third, three parts of a length better
than Lea. Next came Sage Valley, Javerre, Fast Bullet and Golddigger’s Boy.
Saratoga Snacks was scratched.

With his first graded stakes tally, Strapping Groom has now earned $626,713
from a 22-8-5-1 record.

A son of Johannesburg, the chestnut horse showed some promise early in his
career with a pair of runner-up finishes in the Fred “Cappy” Capossela and
Hansel Stakes at age three. But he went to the sidelines in September 2010 and
did not reappear until the following August, finishing last in an optional
claiming event at Saratoga. He dropped into the claiming ranks for his second
and final start of 2011, and raced for either a tag or against starter allowance
company in four attempts last year.

Strapping Groom was haltered for a $35,000 tag in his 2013 debut, a May 24
runner-up finish at Belmont, and promptly captured the June 26 Lion Cavern in
his first start for new connections. He then finished fifth in the Grade 3 James
Marvin on the opening-day at Saratoga and entered the Forego off a 1 3/4-length
victory in the August 12 Kid Russell.

“When you claim a horse, you always have high expectations,” Jacobson said.
“I always liked him going back to when he was laid up. Even back then I told my
assistant, Frank LaBoccetta, I thought he was fast enough to win a graded
stakes. Frank reminded me of that 10 minutes ago.

“(Former trainer) Carl Domino did an outstanding job bringing him back, and
he was in great shape when I claimed him.”

Bred in Kentucky by Kinsman Farm, Strapping Groom is out of stakes runner-up
Something Silver, a daughter of Silver Deputy. This is the female family of
Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again and two-year-old champion Macho Uno,
both successful sires.

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