Issue 792

COLUMN adiyat racing 22 ADIYAT RACING PLUS ISSUE 792 Thursday 6th April 2023 In the wake of the electrifying 27th renewal of the Dubai World Cup, it feels very much like the curtain has come down on a preeminent part of the racing season. Yet as we spectators await Act II of 2023, there surely will be much to savour in the spring and early summer months as the American and European Classic seasons unfold and Royal Ascot blooms. Results at Meydan imply that owners and breeders on both sides of the Atlantic need to develop more superior runners and, hopefully, be willing to send some of the best far afield to prove their merits (or risk ceding the international realm to Japan) rather than opt for early retirements. In America, that pursuit of the next group of stars has entered the ritually critical phase spearheaded by the Kentucky Derby, and an irrefutable favourite for the Triple Crown series was confirmed on 1 April in the dark bay form of $1 million Florida Derby victor Forte. Already the American Champion Juvenile Male of 2022, Forte not only racked up the fourth Grade One win of his seven race career to date, he also demonstrated he has the meaningful ability to overcome adversity and seize victory from the jaws of what appeared to be certain defeat. LEFT WITH A LOT TO DO Near the rear of the 12 runners early after starting from post 11, Forte was only fifth at the stretch call of the 1m1f race as Mage took the lead. Suddenly, however, Forte began to extend himself so much that his body visibly lowered to the ground with his propulsion. In what seemed to be a flash, the son of Violence surged ahead, ears pricked, and then even geared down as he crossed the Gulfstream Park finish line under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. “I was worried; he had a lot to do turning for home,” admitted trainer Todd Pletcher, who was winning a record extending seventh Florida Derby. “He had to angle out really wide and kind of had a wide trip all the way around there, but he had a pretty smooth run, he just had to lose a lot of ground to do it,” Pletcher added. “It looked like he had a lot to do still at the eighth pole but then really kicked in the last part and found his best stride the last 16th.” All signs before, during and after the race were positive for Forte. — FLORIDA DERBY SENDS FORTE TO KENTUCKY WITH A FLOURISH MICHELE MACDONALD “I WAS WORRIED; HE HAD A LOT TO DO TURNING FOR HOME,” FORTE'S TRAINER TODD PLETCHER. “HE HAD A WIDE TRIP ALL THE WAY AROUND THERE, HE JUST HAD TO LOSE A LOT OF GROUND TO DO IT. IT LOOKED LIKE HE HAD A LOT TO DO STILL AT THE EIGHTH POLE BUT THEN REALLY KICKED IN THE LAST PART AND FOUND HIS BEST STRIDE THE LAST 16TH.”