MIKE FORTE RETURNS TO THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Mike Forte hadn’t won a race at Monticello Raceway, or anywhere for that matter, since May 30th. But yesterday(Sept. 24) he not only won one, he had two driving victories.
One might think that he had lengthy dry spell or he had been in a very long slump. However, neither is correct.
Back on June 3 Mike Forte was in a horrific accident in a trotting race so bad that no horses finished the race. Although no horses were badly hurt Forte was.
The veteran driver sustained a broken left wrist and four painfully broken ribs.
“They (the broken ribs) are so painful that it takes the wind right out of you. It’s hard to breath,” Forte related. “And the broken wrist was no picnic either.”
However, after long recuperation Forte returned to the Mighty M driving colony where he has been among the tracks leading reinsmen over the past decade.
“When I got back I started out slow and I was trying to get comfortable in the sulky again,” he said.”It took a little time but now I’m back and feeling good and the two winners I drove today helped my spirits a lot.”
On the Tuesday card of September 24, Forte won the second race with 14-1 longshot Rozewood ($30.50) in 1:56.2 for trainer Dave Barrett, beating among others, the 1-2 favorite and 19-time winner Haroun Hanover who faded after leading most of the way and finished fourth.
Then in the fourth race Forte struck paydirt again this time with Brett Smith’s Broule Hanover ($6.50) when, as second choice in the wagering, their first-over trip finally wore down the 1-2 favorite Fast Bill to score in a time of 2:00.
“I can’t tell you what those wins meant to me. Somehow winning sure helps me forget how hard the racetrack was,” Forte added with a chuckle. “I’m beginning to feel like myself again.”
When Forte was sidelined he was fourth in the driver’s standings with 53 wins and in the late 2012 season he drove his 3000th winner right here at the Mighty M.
“I don’t have a big stable and I do a lot of catch driving and just in the past two weeks I’ve been getting those assignments again. And winning surely helps.” He says.
In amazingly good spirits Forte said he used his forced time away from racing as a vacation of sorts.
“I spent plenty of time with my two grandchildren and I enjoyed every minute with them. While I was recuperating I had plenty of leisure time to do in nearly anything I wanted. I even took a couple of trips to Saratoga to watch the runners,” he said.
Although Forte made his time away from the race track sound great he confided that as good a time that he had he longed to be back racing horses.
“It’s funny, when you’re involved in racing it gets in your blood,” he mused. “Or as someone famous once said, ‘the outside of a horse does something for the inside of a man’, or something like that.”
Forte was referring to Winston Churchill who said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”