(Forte after winning the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland last November / Photos by Coady Photography)

Forte Tops “The Pressbox’s” First 2023 Kentucky Derby Rankings:

It has been awhile since we last witnessed the 2YO Champ and 2022 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Forte on the racetrack in a serious role.

That was last November. That was in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland. That was quite a memory.

After all, it ended up with pictures taken. Flowers draping. And, champagne bottles popping. It ended up with Forte — a brilliant son of Violence — capturing the world’s most important race for 2YOs. It ended up with Forte stamping his name as the top contender for the 2023 Kentucky Derby.

It was quite the memory, to be sure.

But in the world of Thoroughbred racing, memories are short. Especially when the races get longer.

Credentials, credits and compliments are often temporary. Especially when the world awaits a return to the races, and wonders if there is a return to glory.

Patience is a virtue for trainers, but not in ample supply when it comes to fans, critics and prognosticators. Especially when you just so happen to be an aspiring colt headed to the “Road to the Kentucky Derby.”

It is a path that is full of “what have you done for me lately” demands.

It is a journey that many are asked, but few are able to complete.

It is a trip worth taking, only if you have the horse that can make the trip.

Soon, it will be time for Forte — and all his connections — to resume that mission. For now, the racing world awaits. For now, the racing world awaits anxiously with great anticipation.

For now, Forte has earned No. 1. And, why not. In five lifetime starts, the colt has 4 wins. The colt is trained by one of the best in the business, and a Kentucky Derby winner two times over with the likes of Super Saver and Always Dreaming. And, Forte has a win in one of the biggest and most important races of his generation, already.

He deserves the top perch.

Until he races again.

Which should not be that long away. Since being returned to serious training in January, trainer Todd Pletcher has put the colt through two early morning works at the Palm Beach Downs training center in South Florida. Forte got a 3-furlong breeze on Jan. 21 and a half-mile work on Jan. 28. More to come, to be sure. The expected “opening” appears to be the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 4. That will give the connections two full months of final tuneups and checkups before the first Saturday in May.

We will be watching. As the rest of the racing world, will be, too.

We will be back every week to update our rankings and give a little “news” about those that are making their way towards Louisville.

If you want, give us your top picks. We will add them to our watch list.

See you next week.



RankingsPreviousHorseSireTrainerJockeyLast RaceNext RaceCareerComments
1xForteViolenceTodd Pletcher Irad Ortiz, Jr.1st in G1 Breeders' Cup JuvenileMarch 4 -- G2 Fountain of Youth 5/4-0-0Impressive Winner of BC Juvenile / #1 Until Toppled
2xLogginsGhostzapperBrad CoxFlorent Geroux2nd in G1 Breeders' FuturityUndecided2/1-1-0Has Been Off Since Rough-Housed in Futurity at KEE / Expected Back to Cox Barn 1st of Feb.
3xInstant CoffeeBolt d'OroBrad CoxLuis Saez1st in G3 Lecomte StakesFeb. 18 -- G2 Risen Star 4/3-0-0Solid Performance in G3 Lecomte to Kick Start "Road to Derby" / More to Come
4xArabian KnightUncle MoBob BaffertJohn Velazquez1st in G3 Southwest Stakes Feb. 25 -- G2 Rebel Stakes2/2-0-0Pricey Colt Obviously Has Looks & Races, to Date, Have Backed Them Up / Baffert -- Ugh
5xVictory FormationTapwritBrad CoxFlavien Prat1st in Smarty JonesUndecided3/3-0-0Easy, Speedy Winner of Smarty Jones -- Cruise Control / Tougher Challenges to Come
6xCurly Jack Good MagicTom AmossEdgar Morales2nd in G2 KY Jockey ClubFeb. 18 -- G2 Risen Star 6/2-2-0Has 2 Wins & 2nd in 3 Starts at Churchill Downs / Must Consider
7xDubyuhnellGood MagicDanny GarganJose Ortiz1st in G2 Remsen Feb. 11 -- G3 Sam F. Davis 3/2-0-04th in Career Debut to Instant Coffee at Saratoga / Won Last 2 / Won at 11/8 Last Out / Threat
8xTapit's ConquestTapitBrad CoxFlorent Geroux2nd in Fair Grounds AllowanceUndecided3/1-2-0Should Have Won Last Out / Jockey Asked Too Late / Talent Here / One to Watch For Sure
9xSignatorTapitShug McGaugheyJavier Castellano1st in Belmont MSWUndecided2/1-1-0Broke MSW By Nearly 5 When Going 1-Mile / Should Love Distance / By Current Longshot Play
10xCyclone MischiefInto MischiefDale RomansTyler Gaffalione1st in Gulfstream AllowanceFeb. 4 -- G3 Holy Bull4/2-0-1Albaugh Family Paid $450,000 As Yearling / Won Last By Nearly 6 Lengths / Talent Here
10xExpect MoreCity of LightTodd Pletcher Irad Ortiz, Jr.DQ'd From 1st to 2nd in GP MSWFeb. 1 -- Gulfstream MSW2/0-1-1Ran 3rd to Arabian Knight in Debut / DQ'd From Win Last Out / Needs to Dominate on Wed
11xShesterkinViolenceTodd Pletcher Irad Ortiz, Jr.1st in GP MSW Feb. 4 -- Gulfstream Allowance1/1-0-0Speedy-Type Won Debut Easily After Bumping Incident / Connections Paid $330,000 at 2YO Sale
12xRocket CanInto MischiefBill MottLuis Saez2nd in Churchill Downs AllowanceFeb. 4 -- G3 Holy Bull4/1-1-0After 2 Poor Performances at Saratoga, This 1 Found Home at Churhcill Downs / Holy Bull Important
13xConfidence Game Candy RideKeith DesormeauxJames Graham3rd in G3 Lecomte Undecided6/2-1-2Well-Beaten in Lecomte, But? / Defeated Both Rocket Can & Hit Show at CD / Interesting April Foal
14xHit ShowCandy RideBrad CoxFlorent Geroux1st in Oaklawn Park AllowanceFeb. 4 -- G3 Withers 3/2-0-0Only Loss Was After Bobble At Start & Wide Trip / Returned to Win Last by Over 5 / Should Improve
15xLitigateBlameTodd Pletcher Javier Castellano2nd in Gulfstream AllowanceUndecided2/1-1-0Ran Distant 2nd to Cyclone Mischief Last Out In Very Wide Trip / Needs Improvement
16xCorona BoltBolt d'OroBrad CoxFlavien Prat6th in G3 Southwest StakesUndecided3/2-0-0Last Race a Toss / Never Looked Comfortable on Serious Slop / Won Sugar Bowl by 7 / Next Up
17xGiant MischiefInto MischiefBrad CoxFlorent Geroux2nd in Springboard MileUndecided3/2-1-0Made Huge Run in Springboard After Horrible Start / Working Great / Watch for This One
18xJace's RoadQuality RoadBrad CoxJoe Talamo5th in G3 Southwest StakesUndecided5/2-0-1Another Who Didn't Like Slop at Oaklawn Park / Won Gun Runner at FG Before / Another Shot
19xArctic ArroganceFrostedLinda RiceJose Lezcano2nd in Jerome StakesFeb. 4 -- G3 Withers 5/2-3-0NY-Bred Has Run Well in 2 Open Stakes of Late / Has Useful Speed / Is He Good Enough?
20xAcoustic AveMaclean's MusicChristophe ClementManny Franco1st in Notebook StakesUndecided5/4-0-1No Works of Late After Stakes Win Last November / NY-Bred Looks Like Sprinter
AExTwo Phil'sHard SpunLarry RivelliJareth Loveberry2nd in G3 LecomteFeb. 18 -- G2 Risen Star 6/3-1-0Won Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs By Many / Could Jump Up Quickly / Watching