(Forte wins the BC Juvenile / All Photos by Coady Photography)
From the Keeneland / Breeders’ Cup Media Team:
FORTE SWEEPS PAST FAVORED CAVE ROCK TO WIN FANDUEL BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE PRESENTED BY THOROUGHBRED AFTERCARE ALLIANCE
Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Forte ($12.04) swept past odds-on favorite Cave Rock at the sixteenth pole and went on to post a 1 1/2-length victory in the 39th running of the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance for 2-year-olds Friday afternoon at Keeneland.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte completed the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.06. The victory is the 13th for Pletcher in the Breeders’ Cup and third in this race. His previous winners were Uncle Mo in 2010 and Shanghai Bobby in 2012.
It is the first victory in the race for Ortiz and 15th overall in the World Championships.
Longshot Hurricane J shot to the front out of the gate but was quickly confronted by Cave Rock. Cave Rock took over midway down the backstretch as Ortiz kept Forte close to the rail.
On the far turn, Forte moved off the rail and at the top of the stretch was three wide with dead aim on Cave Rock and National Treasure. Forte took over at the eighth pole and drew clear.
Cave Rock held second by 2 ¼ lengths over National Treasure who was third by 1 ½ lengths over Blazing Sevens.
Now a three-time Grade 1 winner, Forte is a Kentucky-bred son of Violence out of the Blame mare Queen Caroline. The victory was worth $1,040,000 and improved Forte’s earnings to $1,595,150.
FANDUEL BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE QUOTES
Winning trainer Todd Pletcher (Forte): “Obviously delighted with everything. He got a beautiful trip. Just kept coming. I think we both got a fair run at it today (referring to being second choice to Cave Rock).
“He got that two-turn experience (in the Breeders’ Futurity) and it paid off today. He’s much more professional today. We learned a little something (from the Breeders’ Futurity) and we tweaked off the last race and it paid off coming here.
“The last time, he made the lead pretty comfortably, but he got to waiting and laying on the horse next to him so today, if we were lucky enough to get in a position to get (the lead), we wanted to give ourselves plenty of space and not get close to the horse next to him.”
Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr (Forte): “Beautiful trip. I broke good, saved some ground around the first turn and took my time down the backside. I started making my move around turn. I hit him once and he responded. He deserves all the credit.”
Trainer Bob Baffert (second with Cave Rock, favorite and third with National Treasure): “Forte ran a great race and came and got us. I knew they went very fast early and I thought Juan (Hernandez) did a good job. He stayed away when they were going fast and slowed it down. He didn’t switch leads until way late. He got tired and that other horse came running. He ran a big race. There is a reason why he won three in a row. He’ll get a lot out of it. He’s a big, strong horse. It’s a different kind of surface, but he had every chance to win, even though he was going fast. I noticed today that the track is drying out. It’s not as fast as the old Keeneland-type tracks. They showed up. They ran well.
Cave Rock: “He ran a gallant race. He got beat by a good horse.”
National Treasure: “He ran a great race. He’s getting better and better. Johnny (Velazquez) had him in a perfect spot. He just hasn’t caught up with (Cave Rock) yet.”
Second-place jockey Juan Hernandez (Cave Rock, favorite): “I was really comfortable the whole way. My horse was very comfortable the whole way. When I asked him to go, he responded. We just got beat today. He was running really straight. He’s still learning.”
Third-place jockey John Velazquez (National Treasure): “I thought I’d be a little closer. I was fourth early. I caught up to him and I thought he had done that pretty easy, but that’s all there was. He’s still learning.”
Fourth-place trainer Chad Brown (Blazing Sevens):“He didn’t break that well and was back a little farther than we had planned, but that’s him – that’s the horse – and after that, I thought Flavien (Prat), once again, made some really good decisions. He followed Forte at one point and he was a fine horse to follow. He took him all the way to the lane and a clear tip-out and he just couldn’t quite crack the trifecta. He galloped out well and looks to be a nice prospect for the future as the distances go longer. Hats off to the winner. Another convincing winner always traveling well, the winner.”
Fifth-place trainer Tom Amoss (Curly Jack): “We’ve talked a lot about his understanding of competition and unfortunately that’s one of the hardest things to do in training. Racing is what brings that about. You saw that again today. He was laying close and they got away from him around the turn. All of a sudden he restarted and came on in the end and finished. I’ve said all along this horse was going to be a much better 3-year-old than 2-year-old. I wasn’t trying to hedge my bet today. He’s got great talent and I’m really looking forward to giving him a short rest in Florida and bringing him back for his 3-year-old year. He’ll get a month and a half off in Florida and we’ll go from there.”