Caroline Forgason had spent several years watching her mother and sisters campaign a long line of talented horses on the track, but she always held off on going full force into the ownership game herself.
Thanks in part to the influence and talents of Forgason's brother-in-law, one of the most noted families in Thoroughbred racing may have yet another contributor to their stellar legacy.
After a near 25-year hiatus from owning Thoroughbreds herself, Forgason can now say she has a Breeders' Cup candidate in her one-horse stable after her 2-year-old filly Somali Lemonade unleashed a huge rally in the stretch to win the Grade III, $150,000 Jessamine Stakes by 13/4 lengths over the Keeneland turf on Thursday.
Considering her grandfather was the late Robert Kleberg — whose King Ranch campaigned 1946 Triple Crown Assault — and her mother, Helen Groves, and sisters have bred and owned such top horses as champions Althea and Queena, Forgason was never that far from the Thoroughbred game.
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It wasn't until her brother- in-law, trainer Michael Matz, conditioned 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, however, that Forgason's racing blood got pumping again and she decided to delve back in the sport. She subsequently purchased Chic Corine, dam of Somali Lemonade, from her mother and kept the first filly the mare produced for her.
"I kept in the game with sisters and friends and partners and nothing happened. And then I got very excited with Barbaro and I was like I'm going to give it another shot now," said Forgason, whose sisters are Middlebrook Farm owner Helen Alexander, former trainer Henrietta George, Emory Alexander Hamilton, and D.D. Matz. "My mom decided to sell Chic Corine because she was getting older and I thought 'Well I can probably afford her now,' and it all worked out. I had two colts out of her and I didn't want any colts so (Somali Lemonade) is my one horse."
Sent off as the 6-to-5 favorite in her second career start against 11 others, Somali Lemonade turned the Jessamine into a near replica of her maiden win at Belmont on Sept. 11 where she came from the clouds in the lane and won drawing off under jockey Alex Solis.
After rating in last while Falconess carved out fractions of :22.31 and :47.50, the bay daughter of Lemon Drop Kid advanced between rivals approaching the final turn before swinging out to the grandstand side in the lane and blowing past eventual runner-up Sweet Cat, who had taken a short lead with about a furlong to run.
"We know she has an extremely strong kick and it does get you nervous, that's for sure, watching," said Matz, who also has the leading juvenile runner in Champagne Stakes winner Union Rags. "A lot of people were calling to buy her after her maiden win and this is why. And I couldn't be happier for (Forgason)."
Somali Lemonade covered the distance in 1:45.39 over a yielding course and is expected to make her third career start in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.
"If she comes out of the race, well, why not (Breeders' Cup)?" Matz said. "She showed her class today."