Forte ‘Looks Very Well’ Following Gutsy Florida Derby Win

Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Forte (Violence), winner of Saturday’s GI Curlin Florida Derby, will remain in South Florida for now to await his next assignment in the GI Kentucky Derby.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher reported Sunday that the champion 2-year-old colt emerged from his one-length victory over Mage (Good Magic) in good order and left Gulfstream Park early Sunday morning to return to Pletcher’s winter base at Palm Beach Downs

“He’s good. He shipped back early this morning and he looks very well,” Pletcher said. “We’ll kind of leave it open. I think we’ll stay here at least a couple of weeks. We’ll monitor the weather here, that it doesn’t start to get too hot, and kind of monitor what the Louisville forecast looks like and if it kind of becomes springtime and [there’s] not a lot of rain in the forecast then we might shift up there for his last couple of works. I think we’ll just play it by ear for a little while and see how things are developing.”

Forte had plenty to overcome in the Florida Derby in an effort and under circumstances that Pletcher felt would be an ideal bridge to the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby.

“I think the one thing we learned in the Florida Derby is that he handled the race really well. The best part of the race for him was the last sixteenth of a mile, which gives you confidence that the added distance won’t be an issue,” Pletcher said. “He seems to have taken it well. He was on his toes after the race which he normally is, just like he is kind of in the walking ring beforehand.”

“It showed that he still had some good energy left after the race, but we’ll learn a lot more about that as we kind of train this week,” he added. “What was impressive yesterday was when he did make the lead, he kind of pricked his ears again which we’ve seen him do a number of times. It kind of makes you believe there’s a little more in the tank there.”

Forte will look to give his trainer his third Kentucky Derby win following Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming in 2017.

“The schedule’s changed a bit. When I first started coming to Gulfstream, the Florida Derby was sort of a prep for a final prep, and now, with the positioning of it five weeks before the Kentucky Derby, to me, it’s kind of become the ideal Derby prep,” he added. “I love the spacing of it, the five weeks until the Kentucky Derby. So it’s kind of changed a little bit as we’ve gone along, but really I like where it’s positioned. We liked the schedule that we laid out for him. We liked the Fountain of Youth as his comeback race, which went very smoothly. Then we got a good solid race in the Florida Derby,” Pletcher said. “Part of the reason we chose the Florida Derby over the Blue Grass was the additional week to the Kentucky Derby. I think that spacing is good, hopefully, to have him move forward again.”

OGMA Investments, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing and CMNWLTH’s Mage, in just his third career start, earned 40 points for his runner-up finish and now ranks 12th on the Derby points leaderboard.

Trainer Dale Romans indicated Albaugh Family Stables and Castleton Lyons’ Cyclone Mischief (Into Mischief), third in the Florida Derby, will be Kentucky Derby-bound.

“He looks good,” Romans said Sunday. “We look forward to the Derby. His last couple races have been good and he keeps improving, so we’ll have him back in there.”

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