Forte is finally getting a crack at running in a Triple Crown race. The colt, who was scratched the day of the Kentucky Derby, is the early favorite for the Belmont Stakes.
Forte, last year’s 2-year-old champion, was made the slight 5-2 favorite on Tuesday for the grueling 1½-mile race.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the colt will break from the No. 6 post in the nine-horse field on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Pletcher’s other horse, Tapit Trice, is the 3-1 second choice and drew the No. 2 post. He finished seventh in the Derby.
“He’s got a big, long stride on him,” Pletcher said. “If we can get him into a good position and into a good rhythm, I think he’s going to like the mile-and-a-half. He’s been training that way.”
Forte was the early Derby favorite, but was scratched by Kentucky officials the morning of the May 6 race because of a bruised right foot. He was on a vets’ list that kept him out of the Preakness, but has since come off it.
“He’s doing great, he’s training really well. He hasn’t missed any training,” said Mike Repole, co-owner of Forte. “We still think this is the best 3-year-old in the crop and on Saturday he’s going to prove that.”
Mage, the Kentucky Derby winner, is skipping the Triple Crown finale after finishing third in the Preakness on May 20.
Angel of Empire is the third choice at 7-2 and will wear blinkers to keep him focused. He finished third in the Derby and is one of three horses in the race trained by Brad Cox.
National Treasure, the Preakness winner trained by Bob Baffert, is 5-1. He drew the No. 4 post.
Arcangelo is 8-1 and will break from the No. 3 post. He is trained by Jena Antonucci, who will try to become the first woman trainer to win the Belmont. Dianne Carpenter saddled Kingpost to a second-place finish in the 1988 edition for the highest finish by a woman trainer.
The other four entries are listed at double-digit odds.
The Belmont field, in post position order, with jockeys and odds:
Tapit Shoes, Jose Ortiz, 20-1; Tapit Trice, Luis Saez, 3-1, Arcangelo, Javier Castellano, 8-1; National Treasure, 5-1, John Velazquez; Il Miracolo, 30-1, Marcos Meneses; Forte, 5-2, Irad Ortiz Jr.; Hit Show, 10-1, Manny Franco; Angel of Empire, Flavien Prat, 7-2; Red Route One, Joel Rosario, 15-1.