Dwelling as much as his lofty juvenile champion standing was little drawback for Repole Steady and St. Elias Steady‘s Forte, who started his 3-year-old marketing campaign on March 4 with a powerful 4 1/2-length victory within the $400,000 Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Forte, a son of Violence, posted a successful time of 1:43.12 for the 1 1/16 miles to earn 50 factors on the Highway to the Kentucky Derby introduced by Woodford Reserve. His 90 general factors lead all contenders searching for to run for the roses at Churchill Downs on the primary Saturday in Could.
The darkish bay or brown colt was coming off a fourth-month layoff following his third straight Grade 1 triumph within the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile introduced by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance at Keeneland Nov. 4.
“Truthfully, I can not say I am stunned,” successful coach Todd Pletcher mentioned of Forte’s efficiency. “I felt actually, actually good about the best way this horse was coming into the race.”
Simply how good is Forte?
“Seems to be like there’s loads of upside,” Pletcher mentioned with a smile.
Forte broke barely inward out of the gate and settled in fifth behind leaders Cyclone Mischief, Harmful Trip, Rocket Can, and Mage across the clubhouse flip.
Cyclone Mischief and jockey Tyler Gaffalione proceeded to set fractions of :24.05, :47.65 and 111.84. Forte settled within the two path.
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. steered Forte four-wide across the far flip. Final yr’s juvenile champ then seized command in higher stretch and drew off for the win.
“I had an attractive journey, stunning journey,” Ortiz Jr. mentioned. “All the pieces I anticipated to occur, every thing got here out good. I needed to get place, he put me in an incredible place, proper behind the horse (Rocket Can) I needed to beat. I simply bided my time to go.”
Rocket Can, winner of the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park Feb. 4, completed second to earn 20 Kentucky Derby factors. The Frank Fletcher Racing Operations colt, skilled by Invoice Mott, now has 40 factors general.
“He ran huge,” Mott mentioned of Rocket Can. “I hoped he would not get too excited, however he nonetheless seemed like he ran his race.”
Cyclone Mischief, skilled by Dale Romans, took third and 15 Kentucky Derby factors, and fourth-place Mage, skilled by Gustavo Delgado, earned 10 factors. Shadow Dragon completed fifth to earn 5 factors.
Blazing Sevens, a Chad Brown-trained son of Good Magic, had completed fourth behind Forte within the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile introduced by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance after successful the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes. He spent Saturday’s journey at or close to the again of the nine-horse discipline.
“He broke very well out of there,” jockey Joel Rosario mentioned. “I could not get in my place going into the primary flip and after that he simply type of ran regular.” It wasn’t his day in the present day.”
Forte’s subsequent race figures to be within the Grade 1 Curlin Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park April 1 or within the Grade 1 Toyota Bluegrass Stakes April 8 at Keeneland.
“We rigorously laid out a plan,” mentioned Pletcher. “We thought that we had a program that put him in place to be able to run whereas nonetheless having room for enchancment and room to proceed to develop. I believe we had been in a position to accomplish that.” — Charlie McCarthy