Newcomer Forgotten Hero upends NYSSS Fifth Avenue

Saturday, December 15th, 2018

NYRA/Susie Raisher

By Sarah Mace

Trainer John Toscano and Charles Festa Jr. must be feeling very good about the prospects of Forgotten Hero, their jointly-owned juvenile daughter of New York sire Mission Impazible. A dominant maiden special weight winner on debut last month, the grey tested stakes company in her second career start Saturday and delivered, coming away with the prize in the 34th running of the $150,000 Fifth Avenue Division of New York Stallion Stakes Series (NYSSS) at Aqueduct Racetrack. Like all ten races in the NYSSS, the 6-furlong dash was restricted to the offspring of eligible New York sires.

Forgotten Hero lived up to her name in her November 4 unveiling, when she was overlooked at odds of 11-1 in a field of eight state-bred juvenile fillies. Out-performing her odds, she turned in an impressive 6-furlong performance, going gate-to-wire and posting a visually impressive 5 1/2-length victory. She had clearly earned her right to take a stab at black type competition, but the Fifth Avenue field would be no walkover.

The sextet of fillies signed on for Saturday’s NYSSS race was led by multiple stakes winner Sassy Agnes, who was bet down to 1-2 favoritism after straight scores in the Lady Finger, Shesastonecoldfox and Key Cents Stakes, all at six furlongs. Also in the Fifth Avenue lineup were stakes winners Party like Grandma and Cartwheelin Lulu. Moreover, there were three other confirmed early speed types in the field, not to mention the fact that Forgotten Hero was spotting considerable seasoning to the rest. By post time she was the third betting choice at odds of 5-1.

Cleanly out of the gate from post five, Forgotten Hero was handled aggressively by veteran jockey Mike Luzzi, who immediately took his speedy filly’s game to Sassy Agnes, who was first to the front.

NYRA/Joe Labozzetta

Pressing the leader from well off the fence through a first quarter mile in 22.50, Forgotten Hero issued a direct challenge to Sassy Agnes just past the half-mile pole. She passed her rival in short order and quickly opened up a one-length lead while taking her spot at the fence.

Sassy Agnes proved to be a tough competitor. Angling out at the head of the lane, she never threw in the towel. For the length of the stretch Sassy Agnes pursued and kept within striking distance, but could never quite make up lost ground on Forgotten Hero.

Forgotten Hero ultimately crossed the finish line one length to the good. The lightly-raced filly can be forgiven a slightly erratic course in the final furlong.

Sassy Agnes finished 7 1/4 lengths ahead of Cartwheelin Lulu, who was the best of the rest in third. Following next in order at the finish were Party Like Grandma, L.A. Page and She’s So Shea D. After a half-mile in 46.94, Forgotten Hero stopped the clock at 1:13.08 for six furlongs. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“I had a perfect trip,” said pilot Mike Luzzi. “She broke good. We knew Linda’s horse [Sassy Agnes] was very fast, but my filly’s really fast. She breezes fast in the morning, so I broke, and I just stayed away from Junior [Alvarado, on Sassy Agnes], and we just bided our time and let the race spread out. I had a lot left heading for home. She’s still a little bit green; she looks around a little bit still. She’s got some improving to do. She’s well-trained.”

Trainer and co-owner John Toscano, Jr. sounded thrilled. “She’s a racehorse. We knew Linda Rice [trainer of Sassy Agnes] was going to be tough in here of course. We decided to play it off the break and see what happens. She went by there in the second quarter and held on, that was great. She does it in the mornings and the afternoons. She has a lot of talent.”

Toscano said he saw Forgotten Hero’s promise early on. “The first time we breezed her she looked like something special. From day one, she really showed a lot of ability. She came through for us today. The second quarter she really took off like a shotgun. It was unbelievable. I didn’t think she was that good, but she really fooled me. I was glad to see it.”

Co-bred by Sequel Stallions and Charles E. Festa, and foaled at Foggy Bottom Farm in Geneseo, Forgotten Hero has earned $116,600 from her two victories. She is one of four winners and the first foal to earn black type out of Seattle Ash, a Kentucky-bred mare by Seattle Sleet campaigned by Festa and trained by Toscano who won eight of 31 lifetime starts and earned $94,510 over five seasons of racing.

Two of Seattle Ash’s prior New York-bred offspring have enjoyed solid hard-knocking careers. Her second foal Seattle Dynasty by Artax (2007) earned $83,015 from 52 starts. Slew’s Brew, a New York-bred gelding by Suave (2011) earned $186,649 from 20 starts.

On April 13, 2018 Seattle Ash foaled a full brother to Forgotten Hero and has been bred back to Mission Impazible, who stands at Sequel Stallions New York.

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