06/16/2013 1:25PM

Churchill Downs: Fort Larned targeting Whitney after Foster win

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Fort Larned, ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., wired the Stephen Foster Handicap for his first win of 2013.

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).

Perl More than 1 year ago
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.
John Flynn More than 1 year ago
GREAT!!! He is The BEST!!! I Love the Horse & His Connections.
IONCAL More than 1 year ago
The fact that Take Charge Indy went off favored is what I can't understand.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Yeah it was bizarre. The horse was basically gutless before his last race when he clobbered a very weak field in the Alysheba.
michael More than 1 year ago
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!!!
Nick Arden More than 1 year ago
Seattle Slew must not have run in any horse races then.
Bryan E More than 1 year ago
Borel would not have done any better. Take Charge Indy is not a Grade I horse. The reason for all the wire-to-wire winners is mostly the 4-6 horse fields. Occasionally it's also really biased tracks, like SA for Breeders Cup. And yes, it is boring to sometimes guess who will get the lead and rail. You didn't have to guess in the Foster, though.
Joe Rockhold More than 1 year ago
Not a G1 horse? He's a G1 winner. I'm not saying he's elite but he's run some very nice races and on his day is fully capable of competing at the G1 level. I'd like to see them shorten up 7 furlongs or a mile and see what happens.
MJP More than 1 year ago
TCI was asked to go after FL, he just doesn't have the gears. Not sure why some people always find a front-running win somehow "cheap" or invalid, as in the frequently used comment "the race was stolen". Nothing to fault Rosie for, not her fault that the unsophisticated bet TCI down to favoritism. She rode him perfectly in the Alysheba, here she was simply outgunned. What we saw Saturday night was a display of raw power and sustained blazing speed of the type that only comes around in a few horses a decade. Sometimes racing can go years without a bonafide Grade 1 free running fire-breathing beast like Fort Larned. I'm planning to enjoy it while it lasts.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Why wouldn't they bring Wise Dan out for the gr.1 Shoemaker, also on June 29th? Just keep on collecting grade 1s.
Mike More than 1 year ago
Lopresti doesn't want to ship out west for the Shoemaker and do it again for the BC. Plus, they don't really care about G1s with him, just $$ since he's a gelding.
Bryan E More than 1 year ago
Not exactly true. LoPresti said before the Foster that if Successful Dan won it, they would run Wise Dan in the Whitney instead of SD to try to get Wise Dan a Grade I win on the dirt. So they care a little, but I think you're right that they don't care enough to ship him cross country for it.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
They aren't running in the Firecracker for the money. They aren't running in the Fourstardave instead of the Arlington Million for the money. They want to fake their way to a nother Horse of the Year. They want to pick easy spots for him and fool everyone into thinking he's the best horse in America which he's not
Jordan More than 1 year ago
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.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Wow, do you give cliff notes with your posts?
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
I don't use beyer numbers when handicapping. They have some interest to compare one performance to another which is their intended use. You talk about adjusting a number depending on who runs second. Shouldn't matter. You talk about what number they ran in the past. Shouldn't matter. The only thing that should matter as a mathematical figure, is the speed of the track and the final time. Let me comment on your statement. "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 grade 1." And that sir is exactly the problem, they are in fact meant to be a mathematical number to in fact compare a horse's performance to another. And it does mean that Larned's performance was only one point better than Paynters. You made my point.
IONCAL More than 1 year ago
Whether they should or shouldn't tweak the raw number will always be open to debate. It is undeniable however, that they do make adjustments, some days and some races. The bottom line is, the figure they assign is not always based on just the track variant, class pars and final time. Some things just don't make complete sense, to us, or Beyer and his crew.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Well, that's not how I interpret figs, as a tool not the end-all. I would have guaranteed Let em Shine wasn't going to reproduce a 109 in the Woody Stephens, because he earned that 109 under optimal circumstances. Don't confuse Beyer trying to sell his product with how most of his disciples actually play. Guys like Watchmaker, Crist, and Free are rarely going to simply play the high figure horse. Sometimes that might be the play. But I don't think anyone serious ever really saw Beyer speed figures as a replacement for all traditional handicapping. And framing Beyers that way is using a straw man.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
My first sentence is, "I don't use beyer numbers when handicapping", so I certainly haven't framed them that way and clearly was not discussing beyers in handicapping terms. Only in the framework of a number to represent a performance to compare to others which is how they were intended. My argument stands regardless of your conversation having nothing to do with that argument
IONCAL More than 1 year ago
What is the point of comparing numbers which represent performances, if not as a handicapping tool? They are intended to be seen, but not used, that is interesting, never looked at it that way.
prose More than 1 year ago
Horse Cents doesn't understand how the figs are actually concocted. Sure par times are used, and those are constant but there's always a difficulty assigning numbers in Grade 1 races simply because not enough of them are run on one surface at the same distance. If you'll notice, the DRF does not even publish a track differential on Breeder's Cup day, no matter what track it's held at. To do so would be ridiculous as it's so out of whack with what is normally carded at any track. So the Beyer fig guys have to resort to the past top figs of horses who finish 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. when calculating the fig of a grade 1winner. Beyers work best in low to mid-level claiming races at a track that cards the same conditions over and over. That's when they come close to the ideal of mathematical precision that Horse Cents is describing.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
You are wrong if I understand you, so let's clarify. Are you saying that if a low level allowance race run at the same distance as a grade 1 race run as the very next race and track conditions being equal, and the allowance winner runs faster than the grade 1 winner, that the grade 1 winner's beyer number is somehow graded using different criteria and that the grade 1 winner could and would get a higher beyer than the allowance winner who ran faster???? That is what is ridicuous, and Andrew Beyer himself would disagree with you. And if what you say is true, which it's not, then the numbers are truly fraudulent. It is not what they were intended to be and not what they are advertised to be.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
That actually does happen not infrequently with turf races. Team Beyer admits that with turf and synth races they sometimes have to look beyond the final time; if a gr.1 turf race is run slower than an allowance due mainly to a very slow pace in the gr.1, Team Beyer will upgrade the fig for the gr.1 if it featured a spectacular closing fraction. And it does matter to Team Beyer who wins, runs 2nd, runs 3rd, and so on; if the raw fig suggests a leap of 20 points for all the top finishers, Team Beyer is likely to downgrade the fig, and chalk it up to something weird happening to the surface. If your main point is that Beyer figs can't be trusted as a purely objective, mathematical representation of a horse's performance, you are correct. There is absolutely a subjective element in Beyers; making the figs is not pure science, there is some art involved. But the fact is, most of those like myself who do use Beyers as a tool recognize this and don't take them as gospel.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
You're not telling me anything I don't know and you're making the waters murky with how they play with the numbers within the confines of the math. But, reviewing my above scenario, I'll go further. Two races run within 30 minutes of each other, one is a 5k claimer, the other is a grade 1. Track conditions being equal, and no weirdness in the race, if the 5k claimer runs a faster time at the same distance than the grade 1 winner, the 5k claimer gets a higher beyer. Period. Anything else would make Beyer a complete fraud. No more muddy waters with details within the math and their bits of handicapping. All things equal, same track, same conditions, no excuses, the faster time at the same distance gets the higher number.
prose More than 1 year ago
Jordan, I enjoy your posts. They're clear-headed and thoughtful. Poor Horse Cents just wants to be obstreperous. We recognize the limitations of speed figures; he is demanding something from them that can't be got. And because of this, he would throw the baby out with the bath water.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure what you want me to write, or what your main point is. If your point is that Beyers are not purely objective, and not to be swallowed whole at face value, I've agreed with that. If your point is that there is a subjective element to Beyers, that they are part art and not pure science, I've agreed with that. If your point is that they are totally fraudulent, and completely useless and worhtless, we'll just have to disagree. As for your example of the 5k claimer and the gr.1 stakes run consecutively on the same track, with no weird weather occurring in between races, most often yes, if the 5k produced a faster time it will get a higher Beyer. But not always. The fact the 5k was faster might raise suspicion in Team Beyer. If, after assigning numbers to the races, they find the fig for the claimer represents a 20 poiint increase almost across the board for the field, and that the fig for the stakes represents a 20 point decline across board, then they might look into the track maintainance on race day. If they find that the track was watered between races, or if the tractors went out over the surface between races, or anything that might suggest the possibility that the track could have changed between races, they will use it as a pretext to adjust the figs based on the subjective hunch that the original figs didn't make sense. Thus, the final figs given to represent the performances of each race are not going to be reflected purely by the times of each race. Is this a common practice? No, but I've read about it. Then, it's up to the handicapper to recognize when such adjustments have been made, and to come to a conclusion whether the adjustment was warranted. If you think the adjustment was incorrect, then you can bet back the horses in the claimer and stay away from those stakes horses(while using other handicapping tools as well, of course).
prose More than 1 year ago
(part 2, see below for 1) I didn't mean to suggest that Beyer figs are in any way associated with the track differential published in the form. Beyer repudiates that number as a handicapping tool and gives reasons for doing so. That said, the absence of such a number on Breeder's Cup day does go toward showing why calculating figs for Grade 1races is difficult.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
And this has nothing to do with the question at hand and what I said ,so saying I don't understand is ridiculous. Answer my question posed as response to your above post and we'll see who doesn't understand.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
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.
Kevin Ryan More than 1 year ago
Being a good horseman does not count much anymore.
Rafael Acosta More than 1 year ago
You can't light a candle next to Baffert--you are hilarious.
B More than 1 year ago
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.
B More than 1 year ago
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.
Kevin Ryan More than 1 year ago
He also said that Awesome Again was not in the same echelon as Touch Gold. Trainer's say strange things. Shug once stated that Coronado's Quest was more talented than Easy Goer. Come on. And people say Frankel ( horse not trainer ) was better than Ribot. It is just talk.
Kevin Ryan More than 1 year ago
Also, might add. I was at Portland Meadows when Awesome Again won the Classic -- I hate blaming Jockeys but Dettori was on the best horse and just started whaling on him. Very bad ride and it cost him the win.
Bryan E More than 1 year ago
I agree. I think he is just trying to get TCI's value up or something. I knew he would be exposed yesterday. As for Royal Delta, I think she's pretty great. Being able to change running styles because of Santa Anita's embarrassing dirt track and win her second Ladies Classic on the front was pretty impressive. How many 1 1/4 specialist mares have there been lately? Her problem is they don't card races long enough for her. With her running style, 1 1/16 and 1 1/8 races around speed favoring dirt tracks (Gulfstream, Saratoga, Santa Anita) against 4-5 other horses are never going to showcase her talents. That's why she always has to wait for the Ladies Classic to look her best. At least there she gets to meet more than 4 horses.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh I don't know did you think Fort Larned was exposed when he ran dead last in last year's Stephen Foster?
michael More than 1 year ago
Quit sending Royal Delta to Dubai Mott, and she'll be the mare we all love on top of championships.
Gary Smith More than 1 year ago
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?