A bad week gets worse for Todd Pletcher. Trainer now faces suspension over Forte ruling.

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It’s been a rough week for Todd Pletcher.

In the span of six days, the 55-year-old Hall of Fame trainer went from Kentucky Derby favorite to a racing suspension.

This time last week, Pletcher was riding high, preparing to saddle three top contenders in the 2023 Kentucky Derby, including morning-line favorite Forte.

Things changed quickly on the morning of the 149th Run for the Roses.

Forte was scratched from the race with a bruise foot, only the second time a favorite had been pulled out the morning of the Derby. That evening, Pletcher’s other two Derby hopefuls, Tapit Trice and Kingsbarns, finished seventh and 14th, respectively.

This week brought more troubling news.

On Monday, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission issued an advisory that Forte is on a 14-day “veterinarian’s list” that makes the 3-year-old ineligible to run in the second leg of the Triple Crown, the May 20 Preakness Stakes in Baltimore.

On Tuesday, the New York Times revealed that Forte failed a drug test last September. According to the BloodHorse, the Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old last year tested positive for meloxicam after winning the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, whose horses finished seventh and 14th in last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, congratulates Javier Castellano, who won the race aboard Mage.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, whose horses finished seventh and 14th in last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, congratulates Javier Castellano, who won the race aboard Mage.

An attorney representing Pletcher told BloodHorse on Thursday that Forte was disqualified from the Hopeful Stakes and that Pletcher would be suspended for 10 days and fined $1,000 by the New York State Gaming Commission.

Pletcher told BloodHorse that Forte, who is owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, was never given the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication and plans to appeal.

The Associated Press reported that Pletcher was granted a stay of the suspension, meaning he’ll be able to continue working until the appeal is heard.

Pletcher does not currently train a horse projected to run in the Preakness Stakes.

The news this week about one of Thoroughbred racing’s most famous and accomplished trainers being suspended follows a Kentucky Derby week at Churchill Downs in Louisville in which seven horses died, including two on the day of the Run for the Roses.

The racetrack suspended Saffie Joseph Jr. after two of the trainer’s horses died at Churchill under unknown circumstances.

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