Based on my fair odds for the test of the champion given the current makeup of the field, Forte is 5-2 to emulate the eventual Hall of Fame inductee and Breeders' Cup Classic-winning horse of the year. Those odds are down both in terms of percent chance of winning and ordinal ranking based on several key defections in the last week.
There are two key reasons for the change in Forte's fair odds.
For one, Baffert has withdrawn from consideration two of his three sophomores. He removed Arabian Lion and Reincarnate while still pointing Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure to the Belmont. I liked Arabian Lion a lot in this spot, and although National Treasure certainly belongs, Forte and everyone else remaining have an easier job with no Arabian Lion to run down.
Secondly, Forte now has had two local drills for the Belmont, including a five-furlong breeze Saturday. He was ready to go 10 furlongs in the Kentucky Derby on May 6, and I am confident that Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher can have him ready to go 12 five weeks later.
Forte is not the only one whose odds I dropped. Tapit Trice, Angel of Empire and Hit Show all are more likely winners now than I saw them just a week ago.
Hit Show, in particular, fascinates me after pairing his Ragozin figure from the Wood Memorial (G2) and the Kentucky Derby. Those numbers are a touch slower than the Pletcher pair and his stablemate Angel of Empire, but they're good enough that if he fires his best shot and handles the 1 1/2-mile distance, he could spring an upset at overlaid odds.