04/29/2013 3:40PM

Churchill Downs: Fort Larned to skip Alysheba Stakes

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Tom Keyser
Fort Larned will skip Friday's Grade 2 Alysheba and target the Grade 1 Stephen Foster on June 15 at Churchill Downs.

Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned, who had been considered a possible starter in the Grade 2 Alysheba on the Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs on Friday, has been withdrawn from the race and will be pointed toward the Grade 1 Stephen Foster on June 15 at Churchill, trainer Ian Wilkes said Monday.

“The horse is fine,” he said. “I worked him a half [April 23], but he just didn’t really bounce out of it like I wanted.”

Coming off two disappointing races to begin his season – one in which he stumbled at the start of the March 9 Gulfstream Park Handicap, tossing rider Brian Hernandez Jr., and later a dull fifth in the April 13 Oaklawn Handicap – Wilkes felt it was better to give his horse a short freshening. “I got to let him fill his tank up,” he said.

Fort Larned’s defection from the Alysheba wasn’t the only one this week. The stakes winner Infrattini, the track record-holder at a mile at Churchill Downs, also will miss the race due to what trainer Paul McGee described as a minor physical setback.

The absence of Fort Larned from the Alysheba leaves Bourbon Courage, Cyber Secret, and Take Charge Indy as the race’s headliners, based on a list of probable starters released by Churchill Downs publicity.

The Alysheba, a $300,000 race at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, was won last year by Successful Dan, who defeated runner-up Fort Larned by a length. Successful Dan, after winning the Ben Ali on April 21 at Keeneland, is, like Fort Larned, being targeted for the Stephen Foster.