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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s multiple Grade 1 winner Forte, a finalist expected to be named champion 2-year-old male of 2022, has begun stepping up preparations for his expected sophomore debut in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) March 4 at Gulfstream Park.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday that Forte exited a three-furlong breeze in 38.38 seconds Saturday at Palm Beach Downs in good order. It marked the Violence colt’s return to the work tab since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 5 at Keeneland.
“It was very good,” Pletcher said. “It was his first work back, just a nice introductory three-eighths. We’ll probably go a half-mile next week.”
Forte graduated at first asking last spring at Belmont Park and ran fourth in the Sanford (G3) at Saratoga. He hasn’t lost since, reeling off wins in the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga and Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland prior to the Breeders’ Cup.
Joining Forte as an Eclipse Award finalist for champion 2-year-old male are Del Mar Futurity (G1) and American Pharoah (G1) winner Cave Rock, runner-up to Forte in the Juvenile, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Victoria Road.
The Fountain of Youth follows the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3) Feb. 4, also at 1 1/16 miles, as Gulfstream’s 3-year-old prep races on the road to the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) April 1.
“We’ve got the Fountain of Youth penciled in as our target and, so far, it’s gone according to plan,” Pletcher said. “We’ve still got a ways to go.”
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