Forte is perfect in resounding Hopeful S. (G1) victory

Eaton Sales grad Forte stamped himself as the best 2-year-old on the east coast with a three-length victory in the $300,000 Hopeful S. (G1) on Labor Day at Saratoga.

After a troubled trip in the Sanford S. (G3) on July 16, Forte made amends in a big way over a sloppy Saratoga track on Monday. He was fifth of six runners on the backstretch, but in the clear and going along easily under Irad Ortiz, Jr.

Even-money favorite Gulfport set the pace, with Forte making up ground around the turn. When Gulfport went wide into the stretch, Forte had clear sailing along the inside and moved up to challenge for the lead. The duo tussled for a furlong before Forte pulled clear and won going away in 1:22.58 for the seven furlongs over the off going.

“He came really energetic into the paddock, but it was a good energy, though,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “You could tell he was kind of enjoying the rain and playing in the slop and splashing in the puddles in the paddock. I love the way he kicked away from the pony, he warmed up awesome.”

Forte is owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, who purchased the son of Violence for $110,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling sale from Eaton Sales, who consigned the colt on behalf of Darrell Brown, Boca Horse LLC and Athens Woods.

Forte, who broke his maiden at first asking by eight lengths on May 27 at Belmont Park, has won two of three starts and earned $225,000.

Looking ahead to a potential next start for Forte, Pletcher said, “Our first reaction was to go to the Champagne (G1, Oct. 1 at Belmont), but we’ll talk to (the owners) and come up with a game plan. The Champagne is a race we’ve always thought highly of and that would be first on the radar.”