Forte – Kentucky Derby Context

April 20th, 2023

Forte is officially scratched from Kentucky Derby 149 - review other runners here!

The Kentucky Derby favorite, Forte will bring a five-race win streak to the Kentucky Derby. He reeled off three consecutive Grade 1 wins last year to earn champion juvenile male honors, and the dark bay colt opened his three-year-old campaign with a sharp 4 1/2-length score in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park in early March. Classified as a stalker, Forte dug deep to win his final prep, the Florida Derby (G1) from well off the pace, and connections don’t want to be so far back along the backstretch of the Kentucky Derby. Forte, who is joined by Practical Move as the only contestants with three consecutive triple-digit Brisnet Speed ratings in advance of the Kentucky Derby, raced closer to the early leaders in previous wins, and he will take some beating with the right trip at Churchill Downs.

Top Brisnet Speed: 103

Top Brisnet Late Pace: 106

Owner: Forte is owned by Mike Repole and Vincent Viola’s St. Elias Stable. Viola campaigned 2017 Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming in partnership. Repole’s best result came via Mo Donegal, who Repole owned in partnership and finished fifth last year, and Mo Donegal came back to win the Belmont five weeks later.

Trainer: A two-time Kentucky Derby winner, conditioning Super Saver (2011) and Always Dreaming (2017), Todd Pletcher holds the record for Kentucky Derby starts, compiling a 62-2-2-4 record since saddling his first runner in 2000. The Hall of Famer won his record eighth Eclipse Award for outstanding trainer in 2022. Pletcher also has Tapit Trice and Kingsbarns in the main body of the 2023 Kentucky Derby field, and Major Dude will seek to draw in from the also-eligible list.

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. added a fourth Eclipse Award in 2022, establishing North American single-season earnings ($37 million) and stakes wins (80) marks, but the leading jockey has yet to make an impact in the Kentucky Derby, recording six unplaced finishes. His best result came on Improbable, who was elevated to fourth via disqualification as the favorite in 2019.

Breeder/Sales: Forte brought a sales price of $80,000 as a weanling at the 2020 Keeneland November sale, and he was purchased by his current owners for $110,000 at 2021 Keeneland September yearling sale. Produced in Kentucky, he’s first foal bred by Amy Moore’s South Gate Farm. Moore’s first equine purchase was Forte’s dam, Queen Caroline.

Sire: A Grade 1-winning juvenile, Violence was on the 2013 Kentucky Derby trail before having his racing career halted by injury. Forte hails from his sixth crop, and Violence will also be represented by Raise Cain in the Kentucky Derby. Violence’s first three Grade 1 winners, Dr. Schivel, No Parole, and Volatile, were all sprinters, but he’s changing his reputation as a sire. By 2002 Belmont runner-up and top sire Medaglia d’Oro, best known as the sire of 2009 Horse of Year and Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, Violence stands at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms in Paris, Ky.

Dam: A four-time stakes winner on turf, Queen Caroline provides stamina to Forte’s bloodlines as a daughter of 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Blame. A relatively young broodmare sire, Blame will be represented in the same capacity by Kentucky Oaks (G1) contender Botanical, and he’s the sire of Kentucky Oaks favorite Wet Paint.

Further Reading on Forte

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