Forte, National Treasure, Tom Durkin and the death of Fusaichi Pegasus feature in our weekly digest of recent international racing news
USA: After being scratched by vets on the morning of the Kentucky Derby due to a bruised foot, last year’s champion juvenile Forte is training towards an appearance in the final leg of the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.
The Todd Pletcher-trained colt, who was subsequently put on a 14-day vets’ list preventing him contesting the Preakness Stakes, has not raced since winning the Florida Derby on April 1.
“He’s in excellent condition and doing well here at Belmont,” Pletcher said. “We got that first breeze in that we were looking for and he’s scheduled to come back and breeze again on Friday [May 26] if conditions permit. We’ll come back with a five-furlong move on the main track and continue on towards the Belmont.”
Forte could be one of four Pletcher horses in the field with Kentucky Derby also-rans Tapit Trice [7th] and Kingsbarns [14th] set to be joined by Prove Worthy.
Kentucky Derby winner Mage will not run after his Preakness third but the winner National Treasure is a likely starter after securing a record eighth success in the race for trainer Bob Baffert.
USA: Legendary commentator Tom Durkin is coming out of retirement to call the Belmont Stakes for Fox Sports. The 72-year-old, who called 80,000 races during a 43-year career until he hung up the mic in 2014, will describe all the races of Fox’s coverage, the first in a TV deal between the NYRA and the network which is in place until 2030.
USA: Fusaichi Pegasus, the 2000 Kentucky Derby winner, has been euthanized aged 26 due to the infirmities of old age. The son of Mr Prospector, who fetched $4m as a yearling, became the most expensive horse to win the Kentucky Derby for owner Fusao Sekiguchi and trainer Neil Drysdale.
At the end of his racing career he was bought by Coolmore for a reported record sum of $70 million to stand at Ashford Stud, retiring from stallion duties in 2020.
Australia: Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne has announced she is to retire from the saddle at the end of the 2023-24 season. The 37-year-old, who won the 2015 Melbourne Cup on Prince Of Penzance, has combined riding with training for the past six seasons.
“I’ve been weaning off for a while with my riding, I obviously still love it and am passionate about it, but you’ve got to be realistic and things come to an end at some point,” she told Racenet.
GB: The owners of Epsom racecourse, the Jockey Club, have sought an injunction to prevent animal rights protesters disrupting the Derby on Saturday June 3. Protest group Animal Rising, who caused a delay to the Grand National in April, have made the Classic their next target and claim up to 1,000 people will be heading to the course.
USA: Death of Breeders’ Cup winning trainer Bill Kaplan More here
Australia: RacingNSW boost purses by A$6.5m More here
Mauritius: Bernard Fayd’herbe suspended for a year More here
USA: Team concept launched for horse racing More here
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