Pletcher‘s Fountain of History 

March 3, 2023

Forte battling Loggins for a neck win in the Claiborne Breeders Futurity at Keeneland Oct. 8, 2022 (Coady Photography)

Champion 2-Year-Old Forte Set To Make Seasonal Bow In Fountain Of Youth 

Derby Dispatch/Edited

LOUISVILLE Ky.— Repole Stable and St Elias Stable’s Forte is set to make his long-awaited return from his victory in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade I) as the 7-5 morning line favorite in Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth (GII) at Gulfstream Park. 

Forte will headline a field of 10 3-year-old colts in the 1 1/8-mile Fountain of Youth that will have a post time of 5:43 p.m. (all times Eastern) as Race 14. 

Trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Todd Pletcher, Forte has been on the sidelines since his Nov. 4 victory in the Breeders’ Cup. Previously, the son of Violence recorded victories in the Breeders’ Futurity (GI) and Hopeful (GI). Forte has been preparing for his seasonal bow at Palm Beach Downs with a series of six published workouts that began Jan. 21. In the last five years, Pletcher hits at a 26%-win rate with horses returning off a more than 90-day layoff. Forte will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. from post No. 4. 

Pletcher’s horses have won the Eclipse Award for Champion 2-year-old three times, but Forte will be the first of those champions to make his 3-year-old debut in the Fountain of Youth 

Prior to Forte winning the season-ending honor in 2022, Pletcher’s former trainees Uncle Mo and Shanghai Bobby were voted Champion 2-Year-Olds. When Shanghai Bobby was campaigned in 2012-13, Pletcher opted to run him in the Holy Bull Stakes (GIII) to kick off his 3-year-old campaign. Following Uncle Mo’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) victory in 2010, the colt returned in the 2011 Timely Writer Stakes (Listed) at Gulfstream Park. 

Blazing Sevens breaking his maiden by 6 1/2 lengths at Saratoga under Manny Franco on July 24, 2022. The Good Magic Colt is No. 10 on the Derby Leaderboard with 16 points. (Adam Coglianese/NYRA Photo)

Another top contender making his first start of the year is Rodeo Creek Racing’s Blazing Sevens. Trained by Chad Brown, Blazing Sevens finished fourth to Forte in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Previously, the son of Good Magic was a 3 1⁄4-length victor in the Champagne (GI). Like Forte, Blazing Sevens started preparing for his return to the races on Jan. 21 except at Payson Park, about one hour north of Palm Beach Downs. Brown’s trainees win at a 28% clip after returning from a more than 90-day layoff. Jockey Joel Rosario will be in the irons for the first time in the Fountain of Youth and the duo will break from post 6. 

Other top entrants in the Fountain of Youth include Courtlandt Farms’ Swale Stakes (GIII) winner General Jim and Frank Fletcher Racing OperationsHoly Bull (GIII) winner Rocket Can, although the former may bypass the race because of an illness. 

Fountain of Youth entrant General Jim is tentative to run in Saturday’s race due to a cough. Trainer Shug McGaughey reported if General Jim didn’t run, he’d be pointed to the Tampa Bay Derby or the Florida Derby.  

Fans can watch and wager on the Fountain of Youth at, the official wagering provider of Churchill Downs Incorporated and the Kentucky Derby. 

Fountain Of Youth Quotes 

Todd Pletcher, trainer, Forte: “He seems to be thriving right now. I hope he can continue on that trajectory. We’re super-pleased with the way he’s coming into the race. Physically, he’s done well. He’s put on some weight. He’s always been a leggy colt, so I wouldn’t say he’s grown height-wise, but he has filled out. He reminds me of his sire. He’s a super intelligent colt, very easy to train, very straightforward. He’s very willing when you want him to be. … With that type of seasoning, I’m very comfortable with two races leading up, hopefully, to the Derby. We’ve approached it from various angles and felt like this was the right path for him. So far everything has been going to plan. Hopefully, it continues to do that.” 

Junior Alvarado, jockey, Rocket Can: “I was very pleased with that race. He won, and a lot of people say it was a slow number here and there. But if you actually pay attention to the race, I was probably seven, eight-wide on the first turn and then turning for home it was probably the same thing. I was four, five, six-wide, and for a baby going two turns and having to give up that much ground, it has to take a toll. I thought he was very game at the end. I’m pretty pleased with him.” 

Bill Mott, trainer, Rocket Can: “The first race back down here wasn’t that hard on him, and he seems to have recovered fairly well. A lot of times the first race will tire them out a little, but he seems to come back good, so hopefully he moves forward a little more.” 

Another great piece by Jonathan!

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