Maybe we can stop hearing Repole make excuses now
He was a good horse; never really showed as much talent as I was expecting from him in 2023.
I can agree with their justification of retiring him instead of running in the Pegasus just because there is money.
I’m not a breeder, of Thoroughbreds or otherwise.
I can’t understand WHY a breeder in KY would choose to use this horse? Fizzles out at 3 after a series of physical problems that were so obvious even the NYTimes wrote about them. What’s the upside? Surely there are gobs of other stallions with similar pedigrees that were at least a bit sounder. I’m not trying to be snarky, but to understand the thinking on horses like this going to stud.
I don’t understand why EVERY horse that retires has to go to the breeding shed. Given Forte’s history with foot problems, I would not be choosing him for a mare. Perhaps some horses would be best suited to second careers outside of the shed. But, then again, sadly money is the name of the game. Seems like they are all “racing to the breeding shed” these days.
I don’t remember hearing Repole make excuses for the horse. Could you add a link? What I remember is Repole being (IMO, justifiably) upset that one KY vet’s opinion could disqualify Forte from running in not just the Derby, but also the Preakness.
As for Forte’s performance this year, I doubt Repole will lose any sleep over your disappointment.
This is what he said about Forte’s retirement in today’s TDN:
"When asked if Forte was unlucky this year, Repole said, “If
winning the Fountain of Youth, the Florida Derby and the Jim
Dandy with a horse is bad luck I wish I had more bad luck like
that. He was also second in the Belmont. He won races that I
dreamed about winning when I was kid. This horse did nothing
but give Vinnie Viola and I two full great seasons of racing. Take
away Arcangelo, give me a 3-year-old that had better year than
“Was he the Derby favorite and was he scratched? Of course
he was. Did the horse he beat two times win the Derby? Yes. But
you can’t look back. Were there highs and lows? Yes. This game
is all about highs and lows. But 99% of the people just get the
lows and not the highs. Vinnie and I were congratulating each
other today and we reminisced. This horse gave us a lot of
Forte retires with a record of 10-7-1-0 and earnings of
Ditto with your thoughts and Davignport. He would be anywhere on my list.
Repole is one of the good guys in my opinion (and I’m not alone in that.)
He’s been good for racing.
I’m a KY breeder who won’t have the opportunity to breed to Forte. If I did, I would have a mare booked to him in a heartbeat. Here’s why:
He’s a gorgeous physical specimen.
5 brilliant races at 2, with 3 back-to-back G1 wins in the fall, including the BC Juvenile.
More brilliance at 3: Grade1 winner, G2 winner (twice), 2nd in the Belmont. (Hardly a fizzle by my estimation)
Out of Queen Caroline–MSW of 400K in a 20 race career–by Blame (3x G1 winner, including the BC Classic)
In the first 3 generations of Forte’s pedigree: Medaglia d’Oro, El Prado, Gone West, Blame and Arch.
Yes, he had foot issues. Every stallion (or mare) has flaws–the point is not to reinforce them. I’d breed a mare to him who has good feet. I’d also bear in mind that it’s hard to be a racehorse at the highest level. There’s lots of travel (Forte raced at 4 tracks in 3 states–NY, KY, FL) and the need to keep adapting to different surfaces takes a toll. Forte probably worked harder in his 2 year career than a lower level horse would that ran twice as long. You know who stays sound the longest? Slow, disinterested, horses. Because they have no “try”. Forte tried his heart out. I don’t care what horse sport you talk about, every rider (and breeder) wants a willing partner. He was that, and more.
Horseracing (like nearly every other sport) is driven by money. It costs an astounding amount of money to keep a horse at the track for a year. Most horses don’t even come close to recouping that investment. It wasn’t that Forte was too unsound to return to races. I’d imagine his owners could have given him time off and brought him back successfully next year. But they chose to follow a different path–which is more a reflection of the times than of the horse’s quality or his potential soundness.
FYI, if you’re getting your horseracing news from the NY Times, you’re not getting the whole story.
Thanks for your take @LaurieB. So nice to hear the thought process of someone in the industry.
It’s hard as someone outside the industry to understand why you wouldn’t go with a closely related stallion who showed racing talent minus the soundness problems. But I also understand that there are different goals when you are playing at that level of racing!
PS- I’m a long time racing fan, regular reader of Bloodhorse & Paulick Report. It pains me when racing stories make it to the NYT- but when they do, you know it’s a situation that’s so…extra…that it’s jumped beyond niche media. The fewer high profile horses scratched from big time races for soundness issues, the better, in my opinion as someone trying to stay a fan.
@MorganMaresVT, we’re in agreement about soundness issues. Fwiw, there were things about the Derby scratch that were never made public. I find it very hard to believe that Todd Pletcher would have run a horse in the Derby whom he, and his own vet team, felt was at risk.
I’m going to chime in and drag @Texarkana into the thread and, heck, @AJeventer as well. I think both of them have posted from time to time about the need for racetrack farriery to move into the 21st century and away from the “that’s the way it’s always been done” attitude.
I’m far from an expert on feet (hence asking others to join in), but I’ve seen more than one discussion opining that “crappy TB feet” is due at least in part to the long toe-low heel model seen at the tracks. Maybe that’s changing; I don’t know. In theory it was supposed to impact the breakover rate, thereby increasing stride length. But trimming and shoeing like that does stretch and thin the soles.
Please feel free to correct any errors in the previous paragraph.
Forte is a damn good horse and I’m sorry he won’t be running at four. He may have peaked a little early as a 3yo, or maybe the rest of the class grew up a little in the months between March/August and caught up. It would be nice to see what he could do with a few more months’ maturity, but we won’t get to find out.
Repole is a good guy. He cares about the sport and he cares about his horses. The ones who don’t make it at the track he makes sure have soft landings. Opinionated, sure, but he’s never shown a selfish side.
I don’t think anyone wants or cares about my opinion on this because I don’t believe TBs have bad feet period. Hoof problems are created by humans 99% of the time. But I’ve worn that soapbox out over the years.
Forte is going to stud because he was a two year old champion and excellent racehorse full stop. He very well may make make an excellent sire. Some, like Justify, Frankel and Curlin, were obvious prospects for stallion success when they went to stud and when they knock it out of the park, who didn’t see it coming.
Then there are others like a pony sized horse with notoriously ouchy knees who couldn’t stand training beyond 3 races and about $30k in purses and who never won a stakes or for that matter, ran further than 6 1/2 furlongs. Why should he be a stallion?
And that was Danzig. It’s an easy game.
Forte has an arguably better race record than Uncle Mo, Repole’s other racehorse that is now standing, quite successfully, at stud.
Heck, he’s got a better race record then Tapit.
Also better than the current leading sire, Into Mischief.
The funny thing is people knock him for being unsound or “fizzling out,” but the reality is if he wasn’t a great racehorse, he would still be running.
Most of those cases aren’t “unsound” horses retiring to the breeding shed early; they are exceptional horses who have the option retire to a stud career instead of having to drop in class after their lay up and pay their way until they can’t.
I referred to this briefly above. To elaborate: exceptional horses also have exceptional expenses if their owners want to continue racing them.
If Forte is valued at 10M–which if you do the math on his stud fee is way low–his yearly insurance bill to race would be $600,000.
I certainly understand why Forte is desirable as a stallion. He’s fast and he is sure to make people a lot of money and an astronomical amount of money if he turns out to be really successful. There’s not many people that would turn that down. I can’t say that I would! But it sounds like he has poor hoof quality and quite possibly other soundness issues so I don’t think it’s in the long term interest of the breed to pass his genes on. But he’s not any worse than the majority of stallions standing today. I would be really interested to see what would have happened in an alternative universe if at some time in the past, someone had made a law that you couldn’t breed a horse unless it had a race record of say, at least 25 starts over 3 consecutive years and retired sound.