Pletcher: Forte Likely Bound For Florida Derby – Horse Racing News


Forte and Irad Ortiz Jr. en route to victory in the G2 Fountain of Youth

Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Forte, last year’s 2-year-old champion male and the current Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite, will most likely make his next start in the $1-million Curlin Florida Derby (G1), trainer Todd Pletcher told Daily Racing Form.

Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Forte made an auspicious 3-year-old debut Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where he scored a dominating 4½-length victory under Irad Ortiz Jr. in the Fountain of Youth.

“The Florida Derby is what we kind of talked about going into the Fountain of Youth and everything coming out of the race would indicate that’s what we’ll do,” Pletcher said told the Form on Sunday morning. “Two breezes before the race makes sense, and then that will give him five weeks until Churchill Downs.”

Forte, a Violence colt who is based at Palm Beach Downs training center, won four of five starts during his championship juvenile season that he launched with a 7¾-length victory at Belmont Park last May. After finishing fourth in the six-furlong Sanford (G2), he rallied from off the pace to win the seven-furlong Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga. He polished off a stellar campaign with a pair of off-the-pace scores around two turns in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland and the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

Forte currently sits atop the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 90 qualifying points. The Florida Derby, set for April 1 at Gulfstream Park, offers Kentucky Derby qualifying points on a 100-40-30-20-10 scale to the top five finishers.

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