Favorite Kentucky Derby Forte has been eliminated from Saturday’s race, Churchill Downs announced.
Forte was eliminated from the race after a Saturday morning training.
The horse was a 4-1 favorite to win the The Kentucky Derby before the announcement.
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Trainer Todd Pletcher and co-owner Mike Repole were seen speaking with a state-commissioned veterinarian after Forte’s morning workout.
Forte is the fifth horse eliminated from the Derby, and the race will now be run with 18 horses. It would be the smallest field to run in the Kentucky Derby since 2020when only 15 horses ran, according to ESPN.
It is the first time since 1936 that five horses have been eliminated from the race.
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Practical Move, Lord Miles and Carry On were removed on Thursday, and Skinner on Friday due to high temperatures.
“After evaluating the colt upon my arrival, I feel that he has not been able to reach the maximum fitness needed to face a race as tough as the Kentucky Derby,» Dragon’s trainer Yoshito Yahagi said, according to the Courier Journal.
On Thursday, Churchill Downs suspended trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. indefinitely after the sudden deaths of two horses.
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«Given the sudden unexplained deaths, we have reasonable concerns about the condition of his horses and have decided to suspend him indefinitely until the details are discussed and understood,» said Bill Mudd, CDI’s president and chief operating officer. «The safety of our equine and human athletes and the integrity of our sport is our highest priority. We believe these measures are our duty and responsibility.»
Post time for the 2023 Kentucky Derby is scheduled for 6:57 p.m. ET.