Champion Forte Works ‘Strongly’ for G2 Fountain of Youth
*Breezes 5F at Palm Beach Downs for 2023 Debut at Gulfstream *
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Forte breezed five furlongs in 1:01.58 Saturday morning at Palm Beach Downs in preparation for a planned start in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) March 4 at Gulfstream Park.
“He finished up very strongly and galloped out great. We’re very, very happy with him,” Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said.
Saturday’s breeze was the fifth in a series of workouts following the son of Violence’s Eclipse Award-clinching victory in the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland. Irad Ortiz Jr., the only race rider Forte has known, was aboard for Saturday’s Fountain of Youth tune-up.
“So far, everything’s gone just as we hoped it would as we scheduled it out,” Pletcher said. “He spent some time at Stonestreet in Ocala with Ian Brennan. They did a great job freshening him up and doing some light work with him before he came in. So, far everything has gone smoothly. This was his second five-furlong move this morning. We let him finish up a little bit and he galloped out strongly. I’m very pleased with his fitness level and the way he’s been training.”
The 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth is the key prep for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1), Gulfstream Park’s premier Triple Crown prep for which Pletcher has saddled a record six winners.
Forte won four of five starts during his championship juvenile season that was launched with a 7 ¾-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 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
“At Keeneland, where he came from off the pace, he got a lot of experience in the Breeders’ Futurity. He made another step forward in the Breeders’ Cup,” Pletcher said. “It seems like he’s gotten even better and better since then. It’s great to have won with the foundation he has and the experience he has going into these races.”
Another notable workout was recorded Saturday morning at Gulfstream Park by Courtlandt Farms’ General Jim, who captured the seven-furlong Swale (G3) at Gulfstream Feb. 4. The Shug McGaughey-trained son of Into Mischief breezed a half-mile in 49.28.
Albaugh Family Stables LLC and Castleton Lyons’ Cyclone Mischief, who disappointed as the favorite in the Feb. 4 Holy Bull (G3) after registering an eye-catching optional claiming allowance score, breezed four furlongs in a sharp 47.60 seconds. The Dale Romans-trained son of Into Mischief turned in the second fastest of 115 recorded at the distance.
AMO Racing USA’s New York Thunder, who has kicked off his career with two sharp victories at Gulfstream Park, produced the fastest of 41 workouts recorded at the five -furlong distance with a 58.61 clocking. The 3-year-old son of Nyquist is trained by Jorge Delgado.