Forte Dei Marmi wins the Northern Dancer Stakes.

Forte Dei Marmi wins the Northern Dancer Stakes.

Michael Burns

Forte Dei Marmi Takes Grade I Northern Dancer

Seven-year-old Selkirk gelding gets first grade I win of career in Northern Dancer.

Forte Dei Marmi completed his climb to the top of the stakes ladder Sept. 15 with a victory in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes Presented by Vtech (Can-IT) at Woodbine, the first grade I score for the veteran turf runner (VIDEO).

Stella Perdomo's heavily favored Forte Dei Marmi engaged early leader Stormy Len in early stretch, powered past that one, and held off stablemate Perfect Timber  in the 1 1/2-mile turf race.

In his previous two starts at Woodbine, the 7-year-old Selkirk gelding registered decisive victories in grade III and grade II races on the turf course at the Toronto area track. Forte Dei Marmi won the July 7 Singspiel by 6 1/4 lengths before taking the Aug. 18 Sky Classic for a second straight year, winning by 2 1/4 lengths and setting a new course record for 1 1/4 miles in the process.

Trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Roger Attfield, Forte Dei Marmi nailed down the fourth graded stakes win of his careerall since age 6. Sunday's victory moved Forte Dei Marmi past the $1 million mark at $1,026,094 with a record of 10-1-5 from 32 career starts.

Fittocks Stud bred Forte Dei Marmi in Great Britain out of the Sadler's Wells mare Frangy. The bay gelding carried top weight of 123 pounds in the Northern Dancer Turf.

"He's at the best he's ever been," Attfield said. "He's done it now three times in a row in three different situations. He's a tough little horse and the way he is right now, he's tough to beat. We gave him a good run down the lane with my other horse (Perfect Timber)."

Fourth through a half-mile in :51.56 set by longshot Turkish, jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva moved Forte Dei Marmi into contention in the backstretch. Turkish would yield to Stormy Len, who was tracked by 4-5 favorite Forte Dei Marmi through six furlongs in 1:15, a mile in 1:39.81, and 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.14.

Forte Dei Marmi passed Stormy Len in the stretch and then had enough to hold off 16-1 shot Perfect Timber by a neck. It was another three-quarters of a length back to Stormy Len.

Forte Dei Marmi returned $3.80, $2.70, $2.10, while Charles Fipke homebred Perfect Timber returned $7.40 and $4.40 to place and show. Leonard Leveen and Michael Shanley's Stormy Len paid $3.20 to show. Those three were followed by Irish Mission, Hampstead Heath, Hotep, and Turkish.