Champion Forte arrives at Spendthrift, will stand for $50,000 S&N in 2024
October 22, 2023
Champion Forte has been retired from racing and has arrived at Spendthrift Farm where he will take up stud duty in 2024. His introductory fee will be $50,000 S&N and he is available for inspection by appointment.
“The first thing I think about Forte is just how much of an honor it is for us to bring a horse like him to Spendthrift. He’s the fifth champion we’ve been fortunate enough to add to our stallion ranks since 2020, and that’s a testament to what Mr. Hughes built and the commitment that Eric and Tammy Gustavson are now carrying forward,” said Ned Toffey, Spendthrift general manager. “While we are disappointed for Mike (Repole) and Vinnie (Viola) that Forte wasn’t able to end his great career like a champion deserves to, we are very grateful for our partnership with them. Forte is the first 2-year-old champion to retire to Spendthrift in more than four decades, since the likes of Seattle Slew, Affirmed and Lord Avie. That’s some pretty special company, and we couldn’t be more excited about his future.”
Owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, Forte had a distinguished campaign as a 2-year-old a year ago. He broke his maiden by 7 ¾ lengths on debut going five furlongs at Belmont, earning “Rising Star” honors by the Thoroughbred Daily News. The striking dark bay colt went on to capture 3 consecutive Grade 1 victories, including Saratoga’s biggest juvenile race, the $300,000 Hopeful Stakes (G1) by 3 lengths going away, and Keeneland’s biggest juvenile race, the $600,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) in his first try around two turns.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Forte punctuated a championship season with a win in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland, earning him the 2022 Eclipse Award for Champion 2-Year-Old Male. His 243 votes represented the most for any horse in any category, including Flightline.
Forte entered his 3-year-old season as a heavy early favorite for the Kentucky Derby. He dominated the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream by 4 ½ lengths in his sophomore debut, before defeating eventual Kentucky Derby winner Mage in Gulfstream’s prestigious $1 million Florida Derby (G1) – his fourth Grade 1 triumph in less than a year of racing.
Unfortunately, Forte was forced to miss the Kentucky Derby as the favorite due to a mild foot bruise that forced him to be scratched the morning of the race. He made his next start in the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes (G1) off a 10-week layoff, finishing runner-up to Arcangelo after a wide trip. Forte returned to Saratoga and got back to his winning ways, capturing the $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) over Grade 1 winners Saudi Crown and Angel of Empire. He earned a 105 Beyer for the performance, the co-fastest Beyer by a 3-year-old around two turns in 2023.
“Forte has given us the ride of a lifetime on the track and done everything asked of him and more under tremendous training by Todd Pletcher,” said Vinnie Viola of St. Elias Stable. “We are blessed to have raced such a talented horse in partnership with Mike Repole, and excited about his prospects as a sire at Spendthrift Farm.”
Mike Repole said: “Vinnie and I are so fortunate to be blessed with this ultra-talented colt. Forte’s 2-year-old season, from breaking his maiden at 5 furlongs in May and winning 3 Grade 1s including capping it off with a spectacular effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, left us in awe. To come back at 3 and win the Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby and Jim Dandy, and run second in the Belmont at 1 ½ miles, was amazing. Forte is just a special horse.”
Forte retires with earnings of $3,029,830. A champion son of Violence, he joins reigning champion freshman sire Bolt d’Oro as another top-class descendant on dirt from the Medaglia d’Oro sire line standing at Spendthrift. Forte is out of the multiple stakes-winning Blame mare Queen Caroline.
“Forte just exuded class in everything he did, which is something you only see from those few special ones that come through,” Pletcher said. “Some probably won’t quite appreciate how special he was because of the bad luck we faced this year. Obviously, the timing could not have been worse to have the foot bruise that kept him out of the Derby, and we have been battling a quarter crack on a different foot that was going to force us to miss the Breeders’ Cup and all our goals for the fall and winter. I’ve been fortunate to train three colts that were champion 2-year-olds but Forte is the first to win three Grade 1s at two. Horses like that don’t come around often and we’ll miss him in the barn.”
For more information about Forte or to set up an appointment for inspection, please contact Des, Mark, Brian or Daniel at 859-294-0030, or visit SpendthriftFarm.com.