09/17/2013 9:09AM

Churchill Downs: Fort Larned to stay home for final Breeders' Cup prep

Barbara D. Livingston
Fort Larned will make his next start Sept. 28 in the Homecoming Classic rather than the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Fort Larned, the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, will make his next start Sept. 28 in the new Homecoming Classic at his home track of Churchill Downs and not the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park the same day, as had been originally planned.

Trainer Ian Wilkes said he had a change of heart after evaluating all the factors involved in getting Fort Larned back to the $5 million BC Classic, which is set for Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.

“The Breeders’ Cup is the objective,” said Wilkes. “This is one less ship. Missing the Woodward kind of forced my hand. All we want to do is get him back to California in the best shape we can.”

Regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. was aboard Fort Larned Tuesday at Churchill Downs for a five-furlong work that came in 59.80 seconds over a fast track. Wilkes said afterward he was pleased with the move and that the horse will have one more breeze before this next race.

The Tuesday work was the second for Fort Larned since he was scratched from the Aug. 31 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga, four weeks after he faded to fifth as the 6-5 favorite in the Whitney Handicap. Wilkes withdrew Fort Larned from the Woodward two days before the race, saying the 5-year-old horse had a “hind-end issue.”

Before the Whitney, Fort Larned was a highly impressive 6 1/4-length winner of the June 15 Stephen Foster at Churchill, earning a 115 Beyer Speed Figure.

The $175,000 Homecoming Classic is the richest and the only newly created race among eight stakes at the 12-day September meet at Churchill. The 1 1/8-mile race will be run at night as part of a Downs After Dark program that also will include the $100,000 Jefferson Cup for 3-year-olds, the only turf stakes of the meet.

According to Churchill racing secretary Ben Huffman, possible opponents for Fort Larned from a nominations list of 28 for the Homecoming Classic are Hymn Book, Agent di Nozzo, Big Town, Street Serenade, and Windswept. Entries will be drawn Sunday.

The Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup, which is run at 1 1/4 miles, is expected to be the final prep for a number of BC Classic candidates, including Alpha, Cross Traffic, Flat Out, Orb, and Palace Malice.

Owned and bred by Janis Whitham, Fort Larned finished third as a lukewarm favorite last year in the Jockey Club Gold before leading all the way in the 1 1/4-mile BC Classic at Santa Anita at 9-1 and earning a 117 Beyer. Overall, he has 9 wins from 23 starts and earnings of just more than $4 million.

Greg Rouch More than 1 year ago
This spot makes the most sense for F L. He probably only wants to run ten furlongs once at a time, so let it be the Breeders Cup.
Big Bob More than 1 year ago
Relish the 15-1 odds at the BCC Greg... Can't wait for the bitc*ing when the dude doesn't break well. So FL is getting one teed up for him here, wtf has dude been getting all year?
Ann More than 1 year ago
Last year, The Dude had a brand new jock, who not only got him out of the gate poorly, but decided to snug him back off the pace afterwards. This year he will have a jock who knows him, probably Martin Garcia, who is his work-rider as well.
Ann More than 1 year ago
Hey, Churchill Downs. If you want to attract second-level horses to your new Classic prep, run it at 10f, like the old Meadowlands Cup and the Hawthorne Gold Cup. You can run 10f races - you do it every year. You really missed a bet by not making the Foster 10f, especially after the Suburban was shortened; don't blow it this time.
Tyler Mathis More than 1 year ago
This sucks. I'm going to super Saturday and was hoping to see him race, off his game or not.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Fort Larned is notoriously inconsistent, but be warned, disregard him at your own peril. He was counted out in last years BC Classic after his performance in the JCGC, now we're throwing dirt on him because of his performance in the Whitney. FL may be inconsistent, but every time he steps on any track in any race, he needs to be taken seriously.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
All I have to say to racing fans and handicappers, Remember Tiznow, he had a awful 2001 for the reigning Hoy. Then What happen, TIZNOW WINS IT FOR AMERICA!!!! DONT COUNT FORT LARNED OUT. When you have done it before you can do it again, words of wisdom from Captain Obvious.
Ann More than 1 year ago
Yeah, terrible year. He only won the San Fernando S, ran second in the pseudo-Strub, then won the Santa Anita H. He was side-lined for 6 months with a pulled muscle in his back and when he came back, he needed a couple of races, the Woodward and the Goodwood (in both of which he was third) to get back into top racing shape. In the Woodward, he acted like a short horse; in the Goodwood, he didn't look interested until the last few strides when he suddenly went into another gear and powered past the first two just past the wire. Five races in high-level stakes races, 2 wins, 1 second , and a third.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Compared to his horse of the year campaign. He did have a bad year, it was not as bad as fort larned but he did have problems all year whether it was injury or not really. Running hard he did have off year. But when chips were all on table. We know the quote. Maybe the word I should use is difficult not awful
Mitch McMahon More than 1 year ago
He'll probably go wide and trail the field at Churchill at 1/9, then win the Classic by 25 lengths in 1:53 and get a 186 Beyer.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Here you go buddy a response and I will get you off -1. Is that better.
R. Carlos Nanez More than 1 year ago
Fort Larned is not the same horse of last year, he's either tired or have some physical problems, I wouldn't be surprised if they retired before the BC.
Big Bob More than 1 year ago
Not gonna happen
ryan More than 1 year ago
Horse won't hit the board in the classic, he is inconsisstant this year. Not the same horse!
Big Bob More than 1 year ago
spread the word
Matthew Ellis More than 1 year ago
We cant forget last year's classic who can beat that. If you trust in Ian then you have to respect him. Personally will wait and see @Santa Anita
Forego137 More than 1 year ago
IMO I do believe their will be a new shooter atop the mountain after this years B.C.Classic and his name will be Palace Malice, this tuff hombre is growing up fast and is ready to take on the best older runners out there and in the B.C. Classic I do believe he will prove me right, stay tuned on this one.......
Dave More than 1 year ago
Kinda reminds me of his daddy, Curlin. A very talented and professional three year old who is only beginning to learn the game. Oh yeah let's not forget his daddy won the BC Classic as a three year old!
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Orb is the better colt. Jockey Club Gold Cup will show everyone his talent.
Perl More than 1 year ago
I disagree. Orb seems to have hit a wall in his development, whereas Palace Malice has continued to move forward. PM is also better bred for classic distances. TIme will tell.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Perl, orbs grandsire won belmont and classic hoy, his damsire won derby and classic. How is palice malice better bred. Curlin is my favorite horse but I can say that.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Perl, you are right I am wrong. Palace Malice DI=2.64 CD=0.65 almost perfect formula for dirt classic
Perl More than 1 year ago
I am not necessarily right until the dust clears, but yes PM has some nice stamina breeding with that Royal Anthem underneath. I still don't really trust these Mailbu Moons on a dry track. Orb is a little horse who got the perfect set-up in the Derby and capitalized on it. I admire his consistency and he's certainly a useful animal, but I think he has been pretty much exposed since the Derby win.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
I have admission even though I believe sloppy track is a over used and overrated excuse. I did use the ap indy angle to pick orb in derby and won the exacta. Most importantly I thought he was the best horse, I think he will finish ahead of PM in gold cup.
Perl More than 1 year ago
what's our wager on these two horses head to head in the gold cup.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
I think he needed the tightener of Travers to get back in shape. Not easy to go 1 1/4 off two plus months rest n recovery. Not many can do that and win. Even older more seasoned horses build up to their 1 1/4 races. He ran well in Florida and peaked in Kentucky. JCGC should show my theory. I know how Shug trains a little too. If I'm wrong after JCGC ill have to agree with you. But I hope Orb runs well.
Greg Rouch More than 1 year ago
Agreed. Orb was a little short in the Travers and should really step forward in the Gold Cup. That doesn't necessarily mean he'd win, because there are several really tough horses in that race. However, he has a chance to reestablish himself in his division with a good performance. Despite P M's Belmont win, I still suspect he is more of a nine furlong type horse. Looking forward to this Gold Cup.