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Pletcher, Casse take top Breeders’ Cup juvenile prizes

by Bob Wisener | November 5, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

What could be a huge Breeders' Cup for Todd Pletcher started Friday at Keeneland with a victory by the early favorite for the 2023 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Forte scored his third Grade 1 victory with a mild upset of unbeaten Cave Rock, trained by Bob Baffert, in the G1 $1.84 million BC Juvenile. With Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, the Violence colt lay fifth early before closing within 1 1/2 lengths of Cave Rock at the head of the stretch. Forte got by at the sixteenth-mile marker and won by the same margin with a fast-rated 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.06.

A May maiden winner at Belmont Park, Forte swept the Hopeful at Saratoga and the Breeders' Futurity before a second Keeneland victory Friday. Owned by longtime Pletcher clients Mike Repole and Vinnie Viola, Forte has earned almost $1.5 million on the track since fetching a mere $110,000 at the September 2021 Keeneland yearling sale.

Cave Rock had won three straight with G1 triumphs at Del Mar and Santa Anita. A son of deceased sire Arrogate, Cave Rock brought $550,000 at the same sale that yielded Forte. He is owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, longtime Baffert connections.

Forte paid $12.04 to win under the Kentucky system that permits exact (rather than rounded) payoffs on win-place-show bets.

Hall of Famer Pletcher is stacked in today's nine BC races with Nest and Malathaat in the Distaff and Life Is Good in the Classic. A three-time Kentucky Derby winner, he saddled this year's top two in the Belmont Stakes, Mo Donegal and Nest.

As in the opening-day G1 Alcibiades at Keeneland, Wonder Wheel ($15) took the Juvenile Fillies for her fourth win in five races. A $275,000 yearling purchase, the daughter of supersire Into Mischief won by three lengths in 1:44.90 under Tyler Gaffalione. Trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse, she won her first two starts before second in the G1 Spinaway at Saratoga.

Brad Cox-trained Chop Chop finished last of 13 as the 23-10 favorite. Cox, two-time reigning Eclipse Award winner, earlier prevailed in a $160,000 allowance race with 3-year-old colt Giant Mischief, also by Into Mischief and with a large list of owners including Arkansas Racing Commission member and Little Rock mayoral candidate Steve Landers.

Print Headline: Pletcher, Casse take top Breeders’ Cup juvenile prizes

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