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Churchill Downs: Fort Larned targeting Whitney after Foster win
By Marty McGee
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The wire-to-wire victory by Fort Larned in the Stephen Foster Handicap last Saturday night at Churchill Downs was similar to his performance last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Classic – even down to the Beyer Speed Figure.
Fort Larned, with Brian Hernandez Jr. riding, earned a 115 Beyer for his 6 1/4-length triumph over Golden Ticket in the Grade 1, $536,300 Stephen Foster. His front-running half-length score over Mucho Macho Man in the 2012 BC Classic at Santa Anita got him a career-high 117.
Trainer Ian Wilkes said Sunday that all was well with his 5-year-old stable star, whose earnings soared past the $4 million mark with his ninth win from 22 career starts, all for owner and breeder Janis Whitham.
“We were the real speed of the race, and we wanted to take it to them and hopefully get him back on track,” said Wilkes, alluding to two off-the-board finishes that began the 2013 campaign for Fort Larned.
Wilkes said he is pointing Fort Larned to the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga Aug. 3 and, down the line, back to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
The Foster was the first Win and You’re In event of the year in North America for the two-day Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, giving Fort Larned an expenses-paid berth to defend his title in the $5 million BC Classic.
Meanwhile, Golden Ticket, who earned a career-high 105 Beyer for his runner-up effort in the Foster, “might run in the Whitney, but I’m not really sure,” trainer Ken McPeek said.
“He ran great, and he showed he belongs with that kind,” McPeek said. “Ideally, I’d like to maybe get a couple easier spots, maybe a couple of Grade 3’s, and get him to the Classic that way. But we’ll think about it.”
Third-place finisher Ron the Greek, along with stablemate Royal Delta, was scheduled to return Tuesday to the main Bill Mott string in New York, with a next race to be determined. “Maybe the Whitney,” said Mott, who already was back in New York on Sunday.
Successful Dan (fourth) also could run in the Whitney, according to trainer Charlie LoPresti, which most likely confirms his stablemate, 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan, for the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap on the Churchill turf June 29.
LoPresti said beforehand that if Successful Dan won the Foster and earned the expenses-paid berth into the Classic, then he may have skipped the Firecracker with Wise Dan and moved him to the dirt for the Whitney.
Easily the biggest disappointment of the Foster was Take Charge Indy, the 19-10 favorite who gave closest chase to Fort Larned for most of the way before finishing last of six, 20 lengths behind the winner.
“Nobody was going to beat the winner,” said trainer Pat Byrne, adding that the colt was fine Sunday. “We’re not in any hurry to run anytime soon. We tip our hat to the winner.”
As for Royal Delta, the 2012 Eclipse Award divisional winner was handed a five-length defeat by the front-running Funny Proposition in Saturday night’s Fleur de Lis.
“I have no excuses,” said Mott, adding that the mare still could run July 20 in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap, as originally planned.
Funny Proposition, trained by Mark Casse, earned a 90 Beyer for her first stakes win.
Here are the Beyers for some of the other winners Saturday: Code West (Matt Winn), 92; Kitten’s Dumplings (Regret), 91; Magical Moon (allowance), 86; Speedinthruthecity (allowance), 82; and Lent (maiden), 77.
Lent is a 3-year-old half-brother to Fort Larned, having been produced by the mare Arlucea, and has the same human connections (Whitham, Wilkes, Hernandez).
It was funny how everyone on this forum was picking the now horse, TCI. Some sharpies were all over Ft Larned at 3-1. Not reboarding. I didn't play the race.
GREAT!!! He is The BEST!!! I Love the Horse & His Connections.
The fact that Take Charge Indy went off favored is what I can't understand.
What;'s with all the wire to wire winners these days. is the track souped up. It;s not even a horse race when one horse goes out and no one challenges from the gate. Disappointing. And that';s the last time you see Rosie on Take Charge Indy. Why not Borel? Florida Derby winner, duh!!!
Why wouldn't they bring Wise Dan out for the gr.1 Shoemaker, also on June 29th? Just keep on collecting grade 1s.
The 115 is lower than I expected. And the fig for the Fleur de Lis is low for a race with Royal Delta. But clearly Royal Delta was way off form yesterday. Code West and Uncaptured are fairly consistent mid-low 90s horses. I was expecting figs about 4 points higher across the board, so 119 for Fort Larned, 97 for Code West, 94 for the Fleur de Lis. The one thing that gave me pause projecting a 120 fig for Fort Larned was that Golden Ticket was the horse that ran 2nd. And I'm sure that Golden Ticket as the runner-up entered into the calculations of the fig makers. Simply put, Golden Ticket had never run fast before yesterday. His career day came in his dead-heat Travers win which earned a 100 Beyer. Beaten 6.5 lengths by Fort Larned, this translated into a 10 point Beyer difference. So, giving Fort Larned a 120 would mean giving Golden Ticket a 110. Maybe Golden Ticket deserved a 110. Time will tell just how good he has become. The identity of the runner-up seems not have mattered as much in calculating Paynter's 114. The horse that was 2nd to Paynter, Majestic City, came into the race with a career best of 90. Majestic City's performance in the allowance on Friday translated into a fig 10 points below Paynter. So, when they gave Paynter a 114, that meant Majestic City got a 104, 14 points a new tops. A justification for such a jump in career best would be that Majestic City hadn't had a really good opportunity to run a big fig after his 2 year old season. After pairing 89s as a juvenile, Majestic City made his first start in almost 7 months with a 90 at Hollywood to open his 3 year old season last year. However, his next two starts were disasters, and he went to the sidelines. The allowance was his 2nd start back as a 4 year old after being ambitiously returned in the gr.3 LA Cap, and he was running over his favorite surface. If Majestic City was ever going to make a 14 point jump in his career best fig, this was the spot. However, just because such a jump is plausible, doesn't make it true. No doubt, Paynter's time was very fast for a Hollywood surface that has been playing very slow the last month+. Comma to the Top got a 109 for winning the LA Cap in 1:09. Let em Shine was given a 109 when running 1:21 and 3, one-fifth faster than Paynter. However, it could be argued that the track is slower now than it was back on May 11th when Let em Shine ran. Personally, I expected Paynter's fig to be a 109 or 110. Whatever the "true" figs, the fact that Paynter received a fig just 1 point lower than Fort Larned in no way suggests Paynter ran as well as Fort Larned. The fig makers, and those that use figs, are not stupid enough to compare a 114 in a weak allowance to a 115 in a gr.1. Against overmatched rivals, a good horse is likely to have everything his way, and horses typically earn big figs when running under optimal circumstances. Things won't be as easy for Paynter in bigger races down the road.
I think it's humerous that lately the majority of articles have some obscure angle to validate BEYER numbers. It's as if people are trying to help Andy regain some credibility. Kinda like if Baffert or Pletcher were to iñtroduce somebody as being a good horseman....hey her's my friend, he really knows his way around a horse. Irony and sarcasm heavily implied.
Everything below I said was correct except (gulp) that AA was not the sire of TCI. They were both trained by Byrne who said that TCI was the better of the two.
I'm still laughing when Byrne said the other day that Take Charge Indy was a better horse than his sire Awesome Again. I like TCI, though I am slowly losing interest, but AA was unbeaten in 6 starts as a four year old beating many of the best around then (Silver Charm, Skip Away, Touch Gold, Gentlemen, Victory Gallop, etc.) & he won the BC Classic that year. TCI better? How are they even comparable? Royal Delta? I don't know. She's always been a very, very good, though not great, filly. Maybe she just needed the race after Dubai or maybe Dubai has just done her in, which has happened to others. Hope she returns to her best form. At her best, right now there is not another older filly or mare that is better and we need the good ones to last.
where was Brushed By A Star...She was nominated to the Vanity Fleur De Lis and Obeah,Could have run 1-2 in any or all of them.Why keep her in her stall?
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