Pletcher denies rumor, says Forte is a go for Kentucky Derby

Pletcher denies rumor, says Forte is a go for Kentucky Derby
Photo: Ron Flatter

Louisville, Ky.

Forte looks fine, and he is still in Kentucky Derby 2023.

That was the message from trainer Todd Pletcher on Friday morning, the day after racing’s gossip mill generated the story that the betting favorite for Saturday’s classic was going to be scratched.

“I was very happy with the way he trained today,” Pletcher told reporters outside his Churchill Downs barn. “Everything’s on course at the moment.”

Forte was seen in a social-media video taking an awkward step in training Thursday, an image that might have fueled the rumor.

Flatter: Rumor mill is semi-reliable this week.

“I saw that,” Pletcher said. “A little bit of a stumble in his gallop. … It’s not something you see very often. He just kind of took a little bit of a bobbled step stuff, but he recovered right away.”

Forte and his stablemates Tapit Trice and Kingsbarns turned in what appeared to be routine gallops on the main track about 36 hours before they are scheduled to race in the Derby.

Pletcher said all three looked good and ready to race.

“As you could see this morning, (Forte) was out there changing leads at every spot beautifully and getting over the ground.”

He said that was evidence Forte was not adversely affected by that misstep the day before.

“That was a one-off,” he said. “I don’t know what that was about, to be honest.”

The veterinarian list posted Thursday by Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s also might have fueled the speculation. Forte and Kingsbarns both appeared on it. Since the KHRC does not say why horses are listed, it could mean anything from some garden-variety medication notice to an actual fitness concern.

“I think that’s standard protocol for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission,” Pletcher said. “I don’t think they were recent additions. They might not have been logged on, but it expires in two weeks, I think.”

Pletcher said he was leaning against having the three colts gallop Saturday morning.

“As a rule we don’t always train on race day,” he said. “Occasionally we will. I think we’ll kind of play it by ear. Most likely they’ll just stay in and walk the shed row.”

As for dealing with racing scuttlebutt, Pletcher was just as matter of fact.

“That goes along with the new era we’re living in as well,” he said. “You know everyone’s got a Twitter account."

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