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The Todd Pletcher-trained Forte, winner in 6 of his 7 starts including the Florida Derby (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), drew post 15 and was named the 3/1 morning line favorite for the 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1), to be run May 6 at Churchill Downs.
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Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s four-time Grade I winner Forte is the 3-1 morning line favorite in a field of 20 entrants plus three also-eligibles for Saturday’s 149th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby (GI) presented by Woodford Reserve.
The 1 ¼-mile classic for 3-year-olds will go as the 12th race on Saturday’s 14-race Derby Day program with a 6:57 p.m. (All times Eastern). First post Saturday is 10:30 a.m.
Trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Todd Pletcher, Forte has won six of seven starts and has posted Grade 1 victories in the Hopeful, Breeders’ Futurity, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and most recently in the Florida Derby.
Irad Ortiz Jr., who is seeking his first Kentucky Derby victory, has the mount on Forte and will break from post position 15.
Pletcher will saddle two other starters Saturday: Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable’s Tapit Trice and Spendthrift Farm’s Kingsbarns.
Tapit Trice, the second choice on the morning line at 5-1, has won his past four starts with the most recent coming in the Blue Grass Stakes (GI) on April 8. Luis Saez has the mount and will break from post position five.
The undefeated Kingsbarns (12-1) comes into the Run for the Roses off a front-running victory in the Louisiana Derby (GII). Jose Ortiz has the mount and will break from post position six.
Third choice on the morning line at 8-1 is Albaugh Family Stables’ Angel of Empire. Angel of Empire comes into the Kentucky Derby off a 4 ¼-length victory in the Arkansas Derby. Prior to that, he won the Risen Star (GII).
Flavien Prat, who won the 2019 Derby on Country House, has the mount and will exit post position 14.
Angel of Empire will be one of four starters for trainer Brad Cox, who has a Kentucky Derby victory by Mandaloun in 2021 on his resume.
Cox’s other entrants are Gary and Mary West’s Hit Show (30-1), Jonathan Poulin, Westerberg Limited, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Verifying (15-1) and West Point Thoroughbreds and Albaugh’s Jace’s Road (50-1).
Hit Show, a winner of three of five starts and runner-up in the Wood Memorial (GII) in his most recent start, will be ridden by Manny Franco and break from post position one.
Verifying was runner-up to Tapit Trice in the Blue Grass Stakes in his most recent start. Tyler Gaffalione, who was aboard for the first time that day, retains the mount Saturday and will break from post two.
Jace’s Road, third in the Louisiana Derby in his most recent start, will be ridden by Florent Geroux and break from post 12. Geroux was aboard Mandaloun in 2021.
Co-fourth choices on the line at 10-1 are Pierre Jean Amestoy Jr., Leslie Amestoy and Roger Beasley’s Practical Move and Asanuma Hiroyuki’s Derma Sotogake (JPN).
Trained by Tim Yakteen, Practical Move has won his past three starts, highlighted by a victory in the Santa Anita Derby (GI). Ramon Vazquez has the mount and will break from post 10.
Yakteen also will send out Reincarnate (50-1) for the partnership of SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan.
Third in the Arkansas Derby (GI) and the Rebel (GII) in his past two starts, Reincarnate will be ridden by three-time Kentucky Derby winner John Velazquez and break from post seven. Velazquez’s Derby victories have come aboard Authentic (2020), Always Dreaming (2017) and Animal Kingdom (2011).
Derma Sotogake comes to Kentucky off a 5 ½-length victory in the UAE Derby (GII). A winner of four of eight starts and earner of $1.1 million, Derma Sotogake will be ridden by Christophe Lemaire for trainer Hidetaka Otonashi from post 17.
Two other trainers will be seeking to add to their Kentucky Derby win totals: Bill Mott and John Shirreffs.
Mott, who won the Derby in 2019 with Country House, will send out Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Rocket Can (30-1). Fourth in the Arkansas Derby in his most recent start, Rocket Can will be ridden by Junior Alvarado from post position 18.
Shirreffs, who saddled Giacomo to victory in 2005, is hopeful C R K Stable’s Skinner (20-1). Third in the Santa Anita Derby in his most recent start, Skinner will be ridden by Juan Hernandez and break from post nine.
One other rider will be seeking another Derby victory: Joel Rosario.
Rosario, who won the 2013 Derby on Orb, will ride Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Disarm (30-1). Trained by Steve Asmussen, Disarm was third in the Lexington (GIII) in his most recent start. Disarm will start from post position 11.
ANGEL OF EMPIRE (Post 14, 8-1), HIT SHOW (Post 1, 30-1), JACE’S ROAD (Post 12, 50-1), VERIFYING (Post 2, 15-1) – trainer Brad Cox: “Hit show, it’s OK. We’ll live with it. We have to. He’s doing great. Manny (Franco) is obviously going to have to work out a trip from down in there. Same thing with Verifying. Tyler (Gaffalione) rides Verifying. Both riders area going to have to find a way into the first turn. Verifying has a little more speed than Hit Show. Both are doing well. Angel of Empire, I think it’s a good draw. Flavien (Prat) will be able to break running and get a good spot mid-pack. That’s what I’m envisioning. Jace’s Road will probably be more forwardly placed as opposed to Angel of Empire. Hopefully he can get himself up into the mix.”
FORTE (Post 15, 3-1), KINGSBARNS (Post 6, 12-1), TAPIT TRICE (Post 5, 5-1) – trainer Todd Pletcher: “I’m good with all of them. Good draws. We’re very happy with it.”
MAGE (Post 8, 15-1) – trainer Gustavo Delgado: “It was a good draw. I think it’s a good spot for him. The horses right next to him are not that fast. To be in the middle of the field gives Javier (Castellano) a lot of opportunities. Whether he wants to go to the outside or inside, the post is a very good place to start.”
PRACTICAL MOVE (Post 10, 10-1), REINCARNATE (Post 7, 50-1) – trainer Tim Yakteen: “Do I like them? Yes.”
RAISE CAIN (Post 16, 50-1) – trainer Ben Colebrook: “I like it.”
SKINNER (Post 9, 20-1) – trainer John Shirreffs: “Thumbs up. It’s a good draw.”
SUN THUNDER (Post 13, 50-1) – trainer Kenny McPeek: “It’s a good spot. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Brian Hernandez Jr. He’s got to negotiate the post positions and we’re gonna let him. I hire him to ride and he does a great job for me.”
TWO PHIL’S (Post 3, 12-1) – trainer Larry Rivelli: “I hope the pace is reasonable. There’s always someone who goes in the Derby. We’ll look to be sitting behind them and have all the traffic behind us. As long as we’re covered up we’re good.”
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