Forte, the Derby Favorite, Is Scratched Hours Before the Race

The deaths of four horses in six days at Churchill Downs made the fragile nature of thoroughbred racing apparent. The Derby entrant Wild on Ice was euthanized after he sustained a leg injury; another horse was put down after an injury; and two collapsed and died during workouts.

In 2011, Repole had to scratch another 2-year-old champion, Uncle Mo, the day before the race. The colt had come down with a gastrointestinal infection.

“I’m 0 for 7 in the Derby,” Repole said earlier in the week. “The pressure of having a horse like this is tough. We all hope and pray and dream that we can get here. When you do, what happens in the days before the race can be scary. He can get sick or hurt or step on something. You just want to get to the gate.”

In the days before the Derby, Churchill Downs is always rife with rumors and speculation about the well-being of the horses. And Forte was not spared the scrutiny.

The colt appeared to stumble during a Thursday gallop, and the moment, caught on video, was parsed by horseplayers and horse lovers alike.

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