Forte (outside) makes his final preparations for the Belmont (Susie Raisher)
Charge It Prepares for Met Mile
Angel of Empire, Hit Show, Tapit Shoes Breeze at Churchill
Il Miracolo Clocks Five Furlong Work at Gulfstream
NYRA Press Office
ELMONT, N.Y.— Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher saw just what he wanted to see out of last year’s Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Forte and Grade 1-winner Tapit Trice in their respective final tune-ups for next Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.
Under mostly cloudy skies and temperatures in the 60s, Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Forte visited the main track following the renovation break, and logged five furlongs under Irad Ortiz, Jr. in 59.67 seconds over a fast main track working in company with maiden winner Varatti [59.72]. NYRA clockers caught the son of Violence galloping out six furlongs in 1:12 2/5.
“I thought it was a super good breeze,” Pletcher said. “He went 59 and 3 and it looked like he was doing it well within himself, good gallop out. He came back and cooled out quickly. It was exactly what we were hoping he would go out there and do and I think based off the strength of his breezes, he’s coming into it as well as we hope.”
Forte, out of the five-time stakes-winning Blame mare Queen Caroline, won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park this season following his Eclipse Award-earning season last year. He was bought for $110,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Pursuant to HISA Rule 2241(a), Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 6 due to a bruised right front foot. In order to be successfully removed from the list, Forte had to work in front of a regulatory veterinarian, which he completed successfully last week, and then produce a blood sample for review following the breeze.
Pletcher reported Saturday that Forte’s blood sample came back negative.
“The bloodwork came back good. All is clear,” Pletcher said.
In the same set, Pletcher sent out Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable’s Tapit Trice, who went a half-mile in 49.89 seconds in company with dual winner Classic Catch [50.56]. NYRA clockers caught Tapit Trice galloping out five-eighths in 1:02 flat.
The son of multiple champion-producing stallion Tapit – the sire of four Belmont Stakes winners – was seventh in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby four weeks after a hard-fought triumph in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland. He will try to make Pletcher the first trainer to notch consecutive editions of the “Test of the Champion” since his former boss and fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas [1994-96].
“I thought he looked great. He’s getting over the ground really well,” Pletcher said of Tapit Trice. “He’s a good-moving horse. We were looking to do a little less with him than we were with Forte, since he ran in the Derby and has had two breezes since then. It was more of a maintenance work for him and it seems like he continues to take to the main track here really well.”
Tapit Trice was bought for $1.3 million at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. His graded stakes-placed dam Danzatrice is a half-sister to 2018 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Jaywalk.
In the next set, Pletcher breezed Whisper Hill Farm’s graded stakes-winning homebred Charge It over the Belmont dirt training track. Also a son of Tapit, Charge It worked a half-mile in preparation for the Grade 1, $1 million Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap on June 10, Belmont Stakes Day. The Metropolitan offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at Santa Anita.
Additional Belmont Stakes workers on the tab Saturday, included the Brad Cox-trained trio of graded stakes-winners Angel of Empire and Hit Show and stakes-placed Tapit Shoes, who each covered five furlongs at Churchill Downs.
Albaugh Family Stables’ Grade 1 Arkansas Derby winner Angel of Empire posted the fastest work of the three, covering the distance in 59.80 seconds. Spendthrift Farm, Steve Landers Racing, Martin Schwartz, Michael Dubb, Ten Strike Racing, Jim Bakke, Titletown Racing, Kueber Racing, Big Easy Racing, Winners Win and Michael Caruso’s Tapit Shoes, who finished second to returning rival Red Route One in the Bath House Row on April 22 at Oaklawn Park, logged his exercise in 1:00.60 while Gary and Mary West’s Grade 3 Withers winner Hit Show stopped the clock in 1:01.60.
The Antonio Sano-trained Belmont Stakes hopeful Il Miracolo recorded a five-eighths breeze on Friday at Gulfstream Park, completing his exercise in 1:00.88. Owned by Alexandres, Inc., the son of Gun Runner enters the Belmont from an allowance optional claiming win on May 11 at the Hallandale Beach oval.