Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Forte
One of the most accomplished horses on the Road to the Kentucky Derby is Forte, voted champion two-year-old male of 2022 after winning the Hopeful (G1), Breeders’ Futurity (G1), and Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). He's been just as sharp in 2023, rattling off victories in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and Florida Derby (G1).
The question is, does Forte have the pedigree to shine racing 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby (G1)? His bloodlines give off mixed signals.
Forte is a son of Violence, an early-maturing juvenile who counted the 1 1/16-mile CashCall Futurity (G1) as his signature triumph. Violence retired with an injury prior to the Kentucky Derby, so we never got a chance to see him race over classic distances.
However, Violence has put together a productive stallion career suggesting he’s a source of speed more than stamina. Prior to the emergence of Forte, Violence’s most accomplished runners in North America were two-time Grade 1 winner and Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) runner-up Dr. Schivel, Woody Stephens S. (G1) hero No Parole, and Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) victor Volatile, all of them tried-and-true sprinters.
Violence has sired graded stakes winners at 1 1/4 miles in South America, but his tendency to pass on speed is further indicated by the fact his progeny win at an average distance of just 6.7 furlongs.
So should we peg Forte as a sprinter/miler? Not necessarily. Forte’s dam is Queen Caroline, who won five stakes running one mile or farther. She, in turn, is a daughter of Blame, voted champion older male of 2010 after flaunting his stamina with victories in the 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), 1 1/8-mile Whitney H. (G1), and 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster H. (G1).
Blame’s progeny have excelled over a wide variety of distances and configurations, but they generally perform best running long, winning at an average distance of 7.3 furlongs. The best include 1 1/8-mile Santa Margarita S. (G1) winner Fault, 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby (G1) victor Nadal, and 2,100-meter Prix de Diane (G1) winner Senga.
It’s too early to draw definite conclusions about Blame’s potential as a broodmare sire, but his daughters have already produced Kathleen O., winner of the 1 1/16-mile Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), and Loggins, who finished second behind Forte in the Breeders’ Futurity.
Forte isn’t the most stoutly bred Kentucky Derby contender, but perhaps the stamina of Blame can balance the sprinter/miler speed of Violence and lead to victory on the first Saturday in May.