Forte placed on KY veterinary list, clouding Preakness plans

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky racing officials have placed scratched Kentucky Derby favorite Forte on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list that may require the colt to pass a soundness test in Maryland in order to race in the Preakness.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced the update on Monday, two days after its veterinarians scratched the early 3-1 choice hours ahead of the Derby during a morning soundness check because of concerns about a bruised right foot. A KHRC release cited HISA Rule 2241a in placing Forte on the list and stated that the Todd Pletcher-trained colt must perform a “satisfactory workout” for a state veterinarian and have a negative blood sample to be removed.

That means Maryland veterinarians may need to be convinced that Forte is able to race in the second jewel of racing’s Triple Crown on May 20 in Baltimore.

Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test after winning the 2021 Kentucky Derby and had to meet a similar requirement to compete in the Preakness, where he finished third.

A message sent to representatives of 1/ST Racing and the Maryland Jockey Club seeking clarity was not immediately returned.

Forte was expected to lead a 19-horse Derby field at Churchill Downs before becoming the fifth scratch in the days immediately leading up to the marquee race.

It was the first time that many entrants were scratched since 1936 and came amidst seven horse deaths recently from incidents before the Derby that has brought scrutiny to thoroughbred racing.

Mage won the Derby at 15-1 odds.

A disappointed Pletcher expressed his belief on Sunday that Forte would’ve performed well in the Derby before adding, “Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option.”

Forte galloped Monday morning at Churchill Downs and is expected to work on Friday or Saturday, according to a tweet and video from the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

Forte works out, waits for Belmont Stakes clearance

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NEW YORK — Forte, the early Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched on the day of the race, worked out in preparation for a possible start in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

Under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte worked five-eighths of a mile for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the colt’s second workout since being scratched from the Derby on May 6.

“It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level,” Pletcher said. “It seems like everything is in good order.”

Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby because of a bruised right front foot. In order to be removed from the list, the colt had to work in front of a state veterinarian and give a blood sample afterward, the results of which take five days.

“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”

Pletcher said Kingsbarns, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont. The colt is showing signs of colic, although he is fine, the trainer said.

Another Pletcher-trained horse, Prove Worthy, is under consideration for the Belmont. He also has Tapit Trice, who finished seventh in the Derby, being pointed toward the Belmont.

Judge grants Churchill Downs’ request for summary judgment to dismiss Bob Baffert’s lawsuit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted Churchill Downs’ motion for summary judgment that dismisses Bob Baffert’s claim the track breached due process by suspending the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.

Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert in June 2021 after his now-deceased colt, Medina Spirit, failed a postrace drug test after crossing the finish line first in the 147th Kentucky Derby. The trainer’s request to lift the discipline was denied in February, keeping him out of the Derby for a second consecutive May.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday that Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert did not devalue his Kentucky trainer’s license. It cited his purse winnings exceeding $1 million at Keeneland in Lexington and stated that his argument “amounts to a false analogy that distorts caselaw.”

Jennings denied CDI’s motion to stay discovery as moot.

The decision comes less than a week after Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness in his first Triple Crown race in two years. His record eighth win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown came hours after another of his horses, Havnameltdown, was euthanized following an injury at Pimlico.

Churchill Downs said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s favorable ruling as in Baffert’s other cases.

It added, “While he may choose to file baseless appeals, this completes the seemingly endless, arduous and unnecessary litigation proceedings instigated by Mr. Baffert.”

Baffert’s suspension is scheduled to end on June 2, but the track’s release noted its right to extend it “and will communicate our decision” at its conclusion.