Forte Dei Marmi Forges Home in Sky Classic

Big finish under Alex Solis produces first stakes win for Roger Attfield trainee.

Forte Dei Marmi unleashed a devastating turn of foot in the homestretch to register an upset in the $266,931 Sky Classic Stakes (Can-IIT) for his first North American added-money victory Aug. 19 at Woodbine.

Returned to his favored 1 1/4-mile distance, the Great Britain-bred Forte Dei Marmi scored at odds of 6-1 with Alex Solis aboard. They won in last-to-first fashion by three-quarters of a length over pacesetter Stormy Lord and German group I winner Scalo, the 7-5 choice.

Five of Forte Dei Marmi's seven lifetime wins have now come at the 10-furlong distance.

The final time was 2:02.57 over firm ground.

Roger Attfield, inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Aug. 10, trains Forte Dei Marmi for owner Stella Perdoma. The 6-year-old son of Selkirk out of the Sadler's Wells mare Frangy was bred by Fittocks Stud.

Forte Dei Marmi trailed at the rear of the eight-horse field alongside Scalo as Stormy Lord was staked to a lonely lead under Justin Stein. Stormy Lord carved easy fractions of :26.40. :51.10, and 1:15.72, leading by as many as three lengths. He proved difficult to collar while leading to deep stretch.

But Stormy Lord began to weaken in the final furlong as Scalo, ridden by Umberto Rispoli, rallied along the inside and Forte Dei Marmi charged on the outside. Forte Dei Marmi hit the lead past the sixteenth pole and drew off in the final strides under a drive from Solis.

Solis needed most of the 1,440 feet from the final turn to the finish line, but felt confident he could track down the leader.

“He’s a horse that likes to take his time, but he was very relaxed back there,” Solis said. “At the top of the stretch, I thought it was time to go. I got him out and he did his thing. The way he was moving, I thought I had a good chance to get (Stormy Lord).”

Stormy Lord held off Scalo by a neck for second.

A multiple handicap winner in England, Forte Dei Marmi transferred to the United State for the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) last September in which he was squeezed back on the turn and was never a factor while finishing 10th.

In his most recent outing, Forte Dei Marmi closed mildly for sixth in the Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs June 16. Prior to that, he finished with a strong rally from last to get third in the Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) at Pimlico Racecourse May 19. He has now won two of six starts in North America.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t be brick-hard ground,” Attfield said of the course condition. “It’s fast, but it’s got some give to it. I said to Alex this morning that if I’ve got him like I had him in the spring, which I think I did, he’ll win the race. He’s just a horse that has a big kick and (is) a very relaxed horse early on.”  

Forte Dei Marmi improved his career record to 7-1-3 in 23 races with earnings of $444,463.

Sent off as the fifth choice, Forte Dei Marmi carried 117 pounds and paid $14.10, $7.50, and $3.70. Local hope Stormy Lord returned $16.70 and $7.60. The exacta was worth a generous $194.60. Scalo, a British-bred trained by Andreas Wohler, paid $3.30.

Pender Harbour was fourth, followed by Smart Bid, Hotep, Eye of the Leopard , and Miami Deco.