Forte struts his stuff in the Fountain of Youth (Lauren King)
By Laura Pugh
On the Road to the Kentucky Derby there is always some sort of scandal or drama.
This year that drama is coming in the Florida Derby, with the entire racing world making a massive fuss over heavy favorite Forte drawing post position 11 of 12.
I’ve got some news…If he’s that good, and he’s as much the best as we all think he is, post 11 won’t make one lick of difference. Remember 2008, Big Brown, in this very same race with the very same set up drew post 12 of 12? With only two prior starts, everyone was saying that there was no way he’d overcome that wide post.
Guess what…. He did just that… Because he was simply that much better. He broke sharply, race up to grab the lead, and never looked back. Now, Forte does have a different running style, preferring to sit just off the pace, but being wide is not something that bothers him. Just look at his last few races where he’s made wide, sweeping moves around the final turn to make the lead.
One could argue that in those same races, he was reserved not far off the rail, saving ground. However, that seems more out of necessity, rather than where he prefers to be.
Forte is not speed-crazy in the slightest, so it’s natural that those who are keener to make the front would outgun him. However, that is why it makes it so easy for him to slide inside. In that position, he normally finds himself behind a wall or in traffic, eating dirt early. However, he doesn’t get to his best stride until he is switched out to open track. From there, he accelerates easily.
Given this style, it’s not as likely that he’ll get caught extra wide since he won’t be gunning for the front. He could be caught a little wide, but that will most likely help him since he won’t need to wait for the opportunity to switch outside like he’s done in his last several races.
So, while it is true that statistics are against him in the Florida Derby, one must remember that statistics aren’t the be-all end all. Especially when the sample size is so small. It is only one facet in a scenario with multiple angles and dimensions. One of which is the class and talent of the horse itself, and in that department, Forte most certainly has the edge.