Champion Forte Super Strong in Fountain of Youth

Forte | Lauren King

The champ is back and possibly better than ever.

Last year's GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner and champion 2-year-old colt 'TDN Rising Star' Forte (Violence) returned to the races in style with a powerful performance in Saturday's GII Fountain of Youth S., good for 50 points on the road to the GI Kentucky Derby.

“We kind of carefully laid it out and put him in a program that would put him in the condition to be ready to run and still having room for improvement and room to continue to develop,” winning trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I think we were able to accomplish that.”

He added, “Honestly, I can't say I was surprised. I felt really, really good the way this horse was coming into the race. It looks like there's a lot of upside.”

The 1-2 favorite broke slightly inward and bumped with a rival at the start. He recovered nicely and traveled kindly in fifth as longshot Cyclone Mischief (Into Mischief), the beaten favorite in the GIII Holy Bull S., led them through fractions of :24.05 and :47.65. Stuck in some traffic on the far turn, jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. tipped Forte out and into the clear four deep approaching the top of the stretch. He took off from there to win impressively going away by 4 1/2 lengths. Rocket Can (Into Mischief), winner of the aforementioned local prep, was up for second. Cyclone Mischief stayed on for third.

Forte, a $110,000 KEESEP yearling purchase by Repole Stables and St. Elias Stable, capped his sensational juvenile season with three straight Grade I victories. In addition to his win at the Championships, Forte also captured last summer's GI Hopeful S. at Saratoga and the GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. The latter was his first attempt around two turns.

“It's special,” winning co-owner Mike Repole said. “Very special. Very special. You know, for a horse making his first start in four months against other horses who have already raced this year, he does it with so much confidence. He's just checking all the boxes right now. He's a pretty special horse right now.”

As for the Kentucky Derby, Repole added, “It's always been the dream. Dream big, dream bigger. It's a good feeling right now.”

Pedigree Notes:

It's good to be a Hill 'n' Dale stallion. In addition to Curlin siring three individual Eclipse winners of 2022 and Good Magic battling down to the wire for freshman sire supremacy last term, Violence had two winners on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Saturday, with Forte joining the hour-earlier GIII Gotham S. winner Raise Cain at Aqueduct. Violence, himself runner-up in the 2013 Fountain of Youth in what would be his last career start, now has 31 Northern Hemisphere-bred black-type winners and nine graded winners.

Forte's broodmare sire, Claiborne stallion Blame, also had two graded winners Saturday as a damsire, with Danse Macabre–by yet another Hill 'n' Dale stallion in Army Mule–winning the GIII Herecomesthebride S. at Gulfstream. Blame has 11 stakes winners out of his daughters.

Forte is the first foal out of Queen Caroline, with her now-juvenile colt by Uncle Mo hammering for $850,000 to Mayberry Farm at Keeneland September. She lost her 2022 foal and was bred to Not This Time for this term. Her third dam is the MGSW Jeano (Fappiano), whose descendants also include champions Folklore (Tiznow) and Essential Quality (Tapit); Japanese champion Contrail (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}); and additional GISW Come Dancing (Malibu Moon). The family traces tail-female to the great La Troienne through her Broodmare of the Year granddaughter by War Admiral, Striking.

Saturday, Gulfstream
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH S.-GII, $400,000, Gulfstream, 3-4, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:43.12, ft.
1–FORTE, 123, c, 3, by Violence
                1st Dam: Queen Caroline (MSW, $401,608), by Blame
                2nd Dam: Queens Plaza, by Forestry
                3rd Dam: Kew Garden, by Seattle Slew
'TDN Rising Star'. ($80,000 Wlg '20 KEENOV; $110,000 Ylg '21
KEESEP). O-Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable; B-South Gate
Farm (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher; J-Irad Ortiz, Jr. $238,080.
Lifetime Record: Ch. 2-year-old Colt & MGISW, 6-5-0-0,
$1,833,230. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the
free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Rocket Can, 123, c, 3, Into Mischief–Tension, by Tapit.
($245,000 RNA Ylg '21 FTSAUG). O-Frank Fletcher Racing
Operations, Inc.; B-Woodford Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY);
T-William I. Mott. $76,800.
3–Cyclone Mischief, 121, c, 3, Into
Mischief–Areyoucominghere, by Bernardini. 1ST BLACK TYPE,
1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($450,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP).
O-Albaugh Family Stables LLC and Castleton Lyons; B-Castleton
Lyons & Kilboy Estate (KY); T-Dale L. Romans. $38,400.
Margins: 4HF, 1 1/4, 1. Odds: 0.50, 6.70, 15.60.
Also Ran: Mage, Shadow Dragon, Il Miracolo, Dangerous Ride, Blazing Sevens, Legacy Isle. Scratched: General Jim.
Click for the chart and the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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