Forte rallied to catch Loggins in upper stretch and ultimately prevailed by neck in Saturday’s $600,000 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, recording his second consecutive Grade 1 triumph and earning a free berth to the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in the “Win & You’re In” race.
Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., the Todd Pletcher-trained colt had to survive a claim of foul by Loggins’ rider after a thrilling duel through the final sixteenth of mile. Forte stretched to two turns and picked up 10 points for winning the Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifier, completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.74.
Forte was exiting a three-length score in the Sept. 5 Hopeful (G1) over a sloppy track at Saratoga.
Off as the 4.43-1 second choice among 14 two-year-olds, the dark bay son of Violence settled in seventh, within five lengths of early runners Bourbon Bash and 3-2 favorite Loggins, through opening splits in :22.94 and :46.36.
Loggins advanced to the fore along the backstretch, and led by about a length midway on the far turn, but Forte was cranking up his bid on the bend. Forte quickly advanced while turning for home to overhaul Loggins, sticking a head in front in upper stretch, but Loggins fought back along the inside.
The two duked it out to the finish line, brushing in tight quarters, and Forte got the upperhand late to narrowly score.
“At the turn, he was still figuring it out,” Ortiz said. “He’s a young horse, and I had to start working really hard on him. He started doing it little by little, but by the time I got there and hit the lead he started acting a little green and laying in a little bit. I had to take a big hold of him the whole stretch.
“He didn’t even let me ride him that well. The whole time I had to hold him and, that horse inside of me, take care of him at the same time as I win the race.”
Florent Geroux, rider of Loggins, explained the claim of foul.
“It was a good race. I got squeezed a little at the eighth pole. (Forte) came in a little bit on me and my horse was shifting, and I think it cost me the win.”
It was nearly seven lengths back to 59-1 Red Route One, who was a head better than Instant Coffee in fourth. Newgate, Lost Ark, Two Phil’s, Honed, Funtastic Again, Frosted Departure, Powerful, Bourbon Bash, Carmel Road, and Good Heart came next under the wire.
Bred in Kentucky by South Gate Farm, Forte was purchased for $110,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale. He’s the first stakes winner from the multiple Maryland-bred stakes winner Queen Caroline, a daughter of 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Blame.
Forte won at first asking by three lengths over maiden foes at Belmont Park in late May. After a disappointing fourth as the favorite in the July’s Sanford (G3) at Saratoga, he bounced back stylishly in the seven-furlong Hopeful. The progressing youngster has now earned $535,150.