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Forte Closes as Future Favorite for Preakness

Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion Forte is the early betting favorite for the Preakness Stakes. (Photo:/Shamela Hanley/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup).

Despite being scratched on the morning of an expected start in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Forte finished the inaugural Preakness Future Wager Saturday as a 4-1 favorite to win the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said during Saturday’s NBC Derby broadcast that Forte, the 2-year-old male champion of 2022 that has won five consecutive graded-stakes capped by the Florida Derby (G1) April 1, remains in the Preakness mix as long as his bruised foot heals to 100 percent.

The 148th Preakness Stakes will be run Saturday, May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course. A career winner of 5,528 races and a North American record of more than $458 million in purse earnings, Pletcher has won the Derby twice and Belmont Stakes (G1) four times, but is still seeking his first win in the Preakness. He has started 10 horses in eight Preaknesses dating back to Impeachment’s third in 2000, his best finish.

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Given unanimous approval by the Maryland Racing Commission at its April 4 meeting, the Preakness Future Wager opened Friday, April 28 and closed at 6 p.m. Saturday, less than an hour before the running of the Kentucky Derby, with $304,326 in the win pool.

Forte Wins Florida Derby

Forte, installed by Maryland Jockey club linemaker Keith Feustle as the 4-1 top choice in an initial field of 29 betting interests, held steady as the favorite throughout the wagering. His win streak also includes the Hopeful (G1), Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at 2 and Fountain of Youth (G2) at 3.

Godolphin homebred First Mission, winner of the April 15 Lexington (G3) at Keeneland in just his third career start and first in a stakes, proved popular on the final day of wagering to finish as the second choice at 6-1. Trained by Brad Cox, First Mission was 15-1 on the morning line and began Saturday co-second choice at 9-1 with Angel of Empire.

“Obviously with what happened to Forte today puts more uncertainty into the situation, but I anticipated the late push to come in for First Mission and the field,” Feustle said. “When I lined this, it was a first for me. This kind of morning line is different from a day-to-day morning line. You have to kind of present some value to the people, and it played out like that. All in all, I’d consider it a success.”

Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Angel of Empire, also trained by Cox, wound up third in the Preakness Future Wager at 9-1. Forte’s Blue Grass (G1)-winning stablemate Tapit Trice finished fourth at 12-1, while both UAE Derby (G2) winner Derma Sotogake and the field entry of “all other 3-year-olds” were fifth at 13-1.

Chase the Chaos, sitting at 60-1 in the Preakness Future Wager, and Red Route One (30-1) have already earned berths in the Preakness field by virtue of respective qualifying victories in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields and Bath House Row at Oaklawn Park.

This year marks the first time the MJC offered advance wagering on the Preakness, the second-oldest of the three Triple Crown races, predating the Derby by three years. Minimum wager was $2, with an 18 percent takeout. Similar to that of future wagers for the Derby and Kentucky Oaks (G1), bettors are not refunded if their selection does not run in the Preakness, which is limited to a maximum of 14 starters.

Two horses, Continuar and Wild On Ice, were removed from the Preakness Future Wager.


Horse Future Odds M-L
1. Angel of Empire 9-1 12-1
2. Blazing Sevens 23-1 50-1
3. Chase the Chaos 60-1 99-1
4. Confidence Game 24-1 50-1
5. Continuar (JPN) SCR SCR
6. Cyclone Mischief 45-1 50-1
7. Derma Sotogake 13-1 10-1
8. Disarm 40-1 35-1
9. First Mission 9-1 15-1
10. Forte 7-2   4-1
11. Hit Show 40-1 30-1
12. Instant Coffee 40-1 50-1
13. Jace’s Road 60-1 60-1
14. Kingsbarns 18-1 15-1
15. Lord Miles 60-1 60-1
16. Mage 24-1 30-1
17. Mandarin Hero (JPN) 15-1 20-1
18. Practical Move 17-1 10-1
19. Raise Cain 60-1 60-1
20. Red Route One 30-1 50-1
21. Reincarnate 50-1 50-1
22. Rocket Can 60-1 50-1
23. Skinner 35-1 20-1
24. Sun Thunder 70-1 60-1
25. Tapit Trice 11-1   6-1
26. Two Phil’s 25-1 40-1
27. Verifying 30-1 15-1
28. Wild On Ice SCR SCR
29. All Other 3-Year-Olds 19-1   8-1

*-$304,326 in pool

*-M-L odds by MJC linemaker Keith Feustle