Forte Disqualified From Hopeful Over Meloxicam Positive; Todd Pletcher Fined, Suspended 10 Days - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Forte Disqualified From Hopeful Over Meloxicam Positive; Todd Pletcher Fined, Suspended 10 Days

Forte, following his victory in the 2022 Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga

Last year's Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old, Forte has now been disqualified from his victory in the 2022 Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. According to, the colt tested positive for meloxicam after his Hopeful victory.

While a New York State Gaming Commission ruling has not yet been posted, an attorney for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher informed about the disqualification, and said that Pletcher will also be fined $1,000 and suspended for 10 days.

A stay of Pletcher's suspension has been granted, pending a hearing to be conducted within 90 days.

“This horse came into our care on March 25, 2022,” Pletcher told TDN. “He was never prescribed or administered meloxicam under our care.”

Just days after Forte was scratched as the favorite on the morning of the Kentucky Derby, the New York Times broke the news that the colt had a drug positive still pending from his juvenile season. The Times' Joe Drape reported that two sources close to the situation say the positive is from a post-race test taken after Forte's win in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga in September. Drape's sources indicated the substance in question was “used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation” but was not specifically named.

Adjudication of the positive dragged on; a spokesperson for the New York State Gaming Commission told Drape the delays were “sought by the trainer's counsel.”

Meanwhile, after his win in the Hopeful, Forte went on to capture the G1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, followed by the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, earning him the 2022 Eclipse Award for Champion 2-Year-Old Colt.

Although he had been projected as the morning-line favorite in the G1 Kentucky Derby, Forte was scratched the morning of the race by Kentucky state veterinarians after his connections said he had been battling a foot bruise for several days. His status for the Preakness remains in doubt, because a veterinary scratch triggers an automatic entry to the vet's list for 14 days and requires a workout and blood test for removal from the list.

Pletcher had a hearing before the New York stewards on Wednesday, and the decision was handed down on Thursday.

Meloxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID), according to, which is used in human medicine “to relieve pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis (arthritis caused by a breakdown of the lining of the joints) and rheumatoid arthritis (arthritis caused by swelling of the lining of the joints).”

The Association of Racing Commissioners International classifies Meloxicam as a Class 4, Penalty Class B drug. Class 4 drugs are therapeutic medications that would be expected to have less potential to affect performance than those in Class 3. Drugs in this class includes less potent diuretics; corticosteroids; antihistamines and skeletal muscle relaxants without prominent central nervous system (CNS) effects; expectorants and mucolytics; hemostatics; cardiac glycosides and anti-arrhythmics; topical anesthetics; antidiarrheals and mild analgesics. This class also includes the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), at concentrations greater than established limits.

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority's Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program, which is expected to launch on May 22, classifies Meloxicam as a controlled medication with a Class B penalty. A first offense would result in an automatic disqualification, 15-day suspension, and fine up to $1,000.

Earlier this week, HISA released a statement regarding its public reporting and disclosure policies pursuant to the ADMC rules. Had the ADMC rules been in effect after Forte's positive test in the G1 Hopeful, a public notification would have been made after the B sample confirmed the positive test rather than waiting for a ruling to be made.


CORRECTION: Pletcher was fined $1,000. An early version of the story had the incorrect amount.

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