Forbidden Kingdom all heart in Joe Hernandez S. (G2)
December 30, 2023
Forbidden Kingdom turned back a very game Dancing Buck to win Saturday’s $200,000 Joe Hernandez S. (G2) over the Santa Anita turf course.
The 4-year-old colt, owned by MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm LLC, won both the San Vicente S. (G2) and San Felipe S. (G2) on the main track as a 3-year-old, while the Hernandez was his first stakes win on the turf course.
Forbidden Kingdom hadn’t raced on the grass since October of 2021, when he was third in Santa Anita’s Speakeasy S. Breaking between horses, he pulled jockey Flavien Prat to the lead in the first furlong, where he hooked up with Dancing Buck. Those two essentially had their own match race the rest of the way. Dancing Buck put his head in front coming into the stretch, but Forbidden Kingdom battled right back and won by a half-length in 1:14.92 on the “good” turf.
“I always thought that he would like the grass but when I ran him as a two-year-old on it, he didn’t do that good,” said trainer Richard Mandella after Saturday’s win. “He didn’t know what he was doing back then. We’ve also been on kind of a losing streak with him a while, so my confidence level was not great. He’s always trained like a really good horse and he is a really good horse. I think now we are back in the game.”
Forbidden Kingdom, who has had the lead at the first call in all 11 lifetime starts, is now 4-3-2 and has earned $679,500.