This year’s “Test of the Champion” features Forte returning to action following a victory in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on April 1 at Gulfstream Park, where he defeated next-out Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner Mage by one length.
A Belmont triumph would be a redeeming one for the dark bay colt, who was scratched from the Kentucky Derby the morning of the race with a bruised foot.
Forte’s Championship campaign saw the son of Violence collect three Grade 1 victories, including the two-turn Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland. In his 3-year-old debut, he picked up where he left off with a victory in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on March 4 at Gulfstream en route to his Florida Derby win.
Forte will attempt to give four-time Belmont winning Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher a second straight conquest of the carnations after saddling last year’s winner Mo Donegal. The last trainer to win consecutive Belmont Stakes runnings was fellow Hall of Famer and former mentor D. Wayne Lukas [1994-96].