Derby Favorite Forte Scratched By State Veterinarians After Morning Gallop - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Derby Favorite Forte Scratched By State Veterinarians After Morning Gallop

Forte schools in the Churchill paddock on May 3

Kentucky Derby morning line favorite Forte is out of the race, according to multiple media outlets on the ground at Churchill Downs, following an examination by state veterinarians Saturday morning.

The Todd Pletcher trainee galloped at around 7:45 a.m. and was seen by state veterinarians afterwards. Dr. Nick Smith watched the horse jog multiple times and consulted with Pletcher and co-owner Mike Repole before the decision was made to scratch the horse. Repole told the Churchill Downs media office that state vets had concerns about a bruise in Forte's right front foot.

Rumors had swirled for the past several days on social media about Forte's status, but Pletcher told the Louisville Courier-Journal on Friday that the colt seemed fine and plans were full steam ahead.

“Wednesday he developed a (hoof) bruise, but bruises can heal in 24 hours or bruises can heal in a week,” Repole told FanDuel/TVG's Caton Bredar (see interview below). “Watching Todd and his staff just handle this with tremendous grace, notify the vet; we did X-rays, we brought in Dr. Allday, Dr. Bramlage, Dr. Johnson. The state vets came in and they watched him every single day. They appreciated the collaboration … it's just that you can only be a 3-year-old colt on the first Saturday in May one time in your life.”

Repole said the Violence colt could be ready for the Preakness if they chose to take that path.

“I think me and Todd are going to need more recovery than him,” he said.

With the defection, the Derby field is now reduced to 18. Skinner was scratched on Friday due to an elevated temperature.

Forte came to the race from a gutsy win in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, which had followed an impressive performance in the G2 Fountain of Youth and before that, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He has won six of his seven lifetime starts.

Irad Ortiz, Jr., who was scheduled to ride Forte, is now scheduled to ride Cyclone Mischief.

Forte is the first morning line favorite to scratch on Derby morning since I Want Revenge was withdrawn in 2009 with an ankle injury. Omaha Beach, installed morning line favorite in 2019, was scratched due to a cough three days before the race.

This is the second time Repole has had a star horse scratch from the Derby. In 2011, the Pletcher-trained Uncle Mo, the reigning champion 2-year-old colt, was withdrawn 24 hours before the Derby after battling with gastrointestinal issues.

Another significant Derby morning scratch came in 1992 when second choice A.P. Indy was withdrawn due to a foot bruise. He sufficiently recovered to win the G2 Peter Pan as a prep for the G1 Belmont Stakes, which he won handily en route to Horse of the Year honors.

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