Forte, the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby before he was shockingly scratched at Churchill Downs the morning of the race, will not run at the 2023 Preakness Stakes.
The 3-year-old champion colt opened as a 3-1 morning-line favorite to win the first let of the Triple Crown. But the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) deemed him unfit to race following his morning run. Now, he will miss an opportunity to beat Derby winner Mage after beating him head-to-head in their last two common races.
Forte’s absence from the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore isn’t a result of any new injuries or setbacks, either. It instead is related to his initial scratch from the Kentucky Derby — a frustrating situation for trainer Todd Pletcher.
“Until we get (clarity), we don’t really know what our status is,” Pletcher said on May 9 (via USA Today). “According to that, we would not be eligible to run in the Preakness.”
MORE: Preakness Stakes horses 2023: Fast facts to know before you pick a winner
Here’s everything you need to know about the Forte’s absence from the 2023 Preakness Stakes, how it’s related to his scratch from the Kentucky Derby and why he was deemed unfit to run in the Triple Crown opener:
Why isn’t Forte in the Preakness?
Forte will not run in the Preakness Stakes, and was not among the eight horses listed in Monday’s post position draw.
His absence from Pimlico stems from his race-day scratch at the Derby on May 6. As reported by the Daily Racing Form on May 8, that automatically placed him on the 14-day veterinarian’s list. Hence, he is ineligible to run in the Preakness Stakes, which occurs two weeks to the day after the Kentucky Derby.
The KHRC also issued a statement on May 8, confirming Forte’s placement on the veterinarian’s list and the steps required for his return. It did not explicitly say Forte was ineligible to run in the Preakness, though the timeline leaves little room for interpretation.
“Forte was scratched from the Kentucky Derby by KHRC veterinarians following Saturday’s routine soundness checks,” the statement reads. “As is the case with all KHRC veterinary scratches related to soundness, and pursuant to HISA Rule 2241(a), this places Forte on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list.
“After 14 days, the requirements for removal from the list include a satisfactory workout performed for a state regulatory veterinarian and a negative blood sample result.”
Tim Layden of NBC Sports, citing a Maryland racing spokesperson, reported on May 8 that Forte was ineligible to run at the Preakness because he is on the vet’s list.
MORE: Who will win the Preakness Stakes? Horses, odds, expert picks & more
Why was Forte a scratch at the Kentucky Derby?
A state veterinarian determined Forte could not run at the Kentucky Derby during the race-day routine soundness check. The horse was confirmed to have a bruised right hoof and reportedly reacted when the veterinarian touched it.
That followed rumors Forte was dealing with an injury after video surfaced of him stumbling at the Churchill Downs track two days prior to the Derby:
With that, Forte became the fifth scratch at the Kentucky Derby, joining Lord Miles, Practical Move, Continuar and Skinner.
The KHRC’s move to keep him from racing followed a series of horse deaths in the leadup to the race: Seven died during the week, and two more died on race day, leading to investigation by Churchill Downs.