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Forte Breezes for Belmont, Kingsbarns Out After Colic

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher gave a “thumbs up” following a May 27 breeze from Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s reigning champion 2-year-old Forte , who worked five-eighths over the Belmont Park main track in preparation for the June 10 Belmont Stakes (G1).

Forte, with Irad Ortiz Jr. up, breezed in company with Ontario-bred maiden Abadin . New York Racing Association clockers caught Forte through three-eighths in :35 before completing five furlongs in 1:00.44 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 over the fast main track.



The move was Forte’s second since being scratched by the stewards on the advice of Kentucky Horse Racing Commission chief veterinarian Dr. Nick Smith the morning of the May 6 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs over lingering concerns related to a foot he bruised earlier in the week. He breezed a half-mile in :50.31 May 21 over the Belmont training track.

“I was really, really happy. I thought he was moving great. He got into a good rhythm, finished up great, and galloped out nice and well,” Pletcher said. “It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level. We thought that last week when he breezed a half that he recovered pretty quickly, and even more so today after a strong breeze and big gallop out. It seems like everything is in good order.”

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Pursuant to HISA Rule 2241(a), Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby. In order to be successfully removed from the list, Forte had to work in front of a regulatory veterinarian and then produce a blood sample for review following the breeze which generally takes five days to be returned.

Kentucky Derby favorite Forte scratches after being examined by Kentucky Chief Veterinarian Nick Smith, right after a bruise on the colt’s right foot was discovered earlier in the week, Saturday, May 06, 2023 at the Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Photo: Jonathan Palmer

Forte is examined at Churchill Downs before being scratched from the Kentucky Derby for a foot bruise

Pletcher said Dr. Sarah Hinchliffe, NYRA’s senior examining veterinarian, was pleased with the work and subsequent exam.

“It went very well. She examined him before he breezed, watched him on the track during the breeze and after the breeze, and then came back to the barn and examined him again,” Pletcher said. “She said she was happy. They pulled blood and she gets results in five days on that and that should take care of everything.”

Pletcher said he is content that Forte is in top shape ahead of the Belmont.

“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”

Initially scheduled to work May 26, Pletcher moved Forte’s breeze to Saturday to give him an extra day between drills.

The four-time Belmont Stakes-winning trainer also reported that Spendthrift Farm’s Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Kingsbarns , 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont, the final leg of the Triple. The son of Uncle Mo   missed a scheduled breeze Friday after demonstrating signs of colic that morning.

“We’re going to be knocked off course. He had a bout of colic,” Pletcher said. “He’s fine, no surgery needed. They just have to administer some fluids. It’s unfortunate timing, but it’s not something that we can (control). We can’t get a breeze in the next day or two so we’re going to run out of time. We’ll make sure he’s OK and then come up with a game plan.”

May 2, 2023: Kingsbarns...Rick Samuels/The Blood-Horse
Photo: Rick Samuels

Kingsbarns trains May 2 at Churchill downs

Cox Works Angel of Empire and Hit Show at Churchill Downs

Trainer Brad Cox will go two deep in pursuit of his second conquest in the Belmont with Kentucky Derby participants 
Angel of Empire  (third) and Hit Show  (fifth). Both horses breezed Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Albaugh Family Stables’ Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Angel of Empire went in company with graded stakes winner Warrant  and logged five-eighths in :59 4/5 over the fast main track.

Gary and Mary West’s Hit Show, second in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2), completed his five-furlong move in 1:00 1/5 in company with two-time winning sophomore Salute the Stars .

“Angel of Empire and Hit Show worked really well this morning,” said Cox, who saddled 2021 Belmont winner Essential Quality  . “Both horses have exited the Derby in good shape and have been able to get back to regular training. Angel of Empire worked with (graded winner) Warrant . He started a couple lengths back and finished up well around the turn. Hit Show is a more aggressive type of horse and gets a lot out of his training. He worked with Salute the Stars who’s a good work horse as well. They had a very solid move.”

Both Angel of Empire and Hit Show will record their final breeze at Churchill Downs June 3 before shipping to Belmont early the following week.

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.

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