06/10/2013 11:51AM

Churchill Downs: Fort Larned works in mud for Stephen Foster Handicap

Tom Keyser
Fort Larned finished fifth in the Oaklawn Handicap on April 13, his last start.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Fort Larned had his final workout toward the Stephen Foster Handicap when breezing five furlongs in 1:01.40 early Monday over a muddy Churchill Downs surface.

Regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. was aboard Fort Larned for the work, which was his seventh since his last race, a fifth-place finish in the April 13 Oaklawn Handicap. He is one of six older horses expected Saturday night for the Grade 1, $500,000 Foster.

“He went great, finished up real well,” Hernandez said. “He’s happy, I’m happy.”

Fort Larned, trained by Ian Wilkes for owner-breeder Janis Whitham, has raced twice since winning the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic last November. He threw Hernandez at the start of his 5-year-old debut, the March 9 Gulfstream Park Handicap, before disappointing as the 1-2 favorite at Oaklawn.

The Foster is one of four graded stakes set for Saturday night; the others are the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis, Grade 3 Matt Winn, and Grade 3 Regret. Entries for all Saturday race will be drawn Wednesday.

With weights and jockeys, this is the projected Foster lineup: Fort Larned, 121, Hernandez; Successful Dan, 121, Julien Leparoux; Ron the Greek, 120, Jose Lezcano; Take Charge Indy, 119, Rosie Napravnik; Golden Ticket, 117, Joel Rosario; and Pool Play, 115, Miguel Mena.

First post Saturday is 6 p.m. Eastern. Each of the last three Saturdays at the spring meet will be Downs After Dark programs.

John Bradley More than 1 year ago
Am I the only one who is tired of these six horse stakes races at Churchill Downs? They offer very little betting value or excitement, why just two years ago this race had 11 entrants and was won by Pool Play at 36-1 while making his first dirt start. He rallied from far back in middle of the track to beat Mission Impazible by a neck, now that was exciting. I'll be honest, I didn't bet on him, but that was a great race. I'm also no fan of the night racing, there is a part of me that understands why the track is doing it. On the other hand a band in the paddock is annoying. One band member last year knocked over a microphone stand which feed back scaring a horse who kicked the back of the stall. If I want to see a cheesy band I'll go to a bar. Is there anyone out there can relate?
Lucky Boey More than 1 year ago
That's the field of confirmed starters and they are all G1 winners. There will be a few more entered at the time of the draw. It will be a good betting race like the Just a Game on Belmont day just past.
John Bradley More than 1 year ago
I sure hope your right Lucky, I guess we will find out on wednesday.
Big Bob More than 1 year ago
It is sad John, but such is the state of racing in the older handicap division. I wish Baffert would test the Dude against these, rather than face easy comp all year just to have him overwhelmed in the Classic. Maybe if Churchill upped the purse a little he would have considered it. You know they have money from Derby weekend they could reinvest in this race to entice a bigger field which would lead to a bigger handle. Regardless, out of the east coast division, Graydar, Bourbon Courage, and Cigar Street are not working currently; MMM must not be quite ready hopefully he can in get a prep before the Whitney; Last Gunfighter is undefeated this year, you would think he would be in this off four weeks rest; Master Rick has won three in a row, but prob will opt for the Cornhusker, other than that who else is going to step up and run in the big races?
John Bradley More than 1 year ago
You make a great point Bob.
Big Bob More than 1 year ago
Glad to see MMM back in at Belmont on Friday, hope he runs in the Whitney with some of these.
Mark Hoeft More than 1 year ago
He finished dead last in the Stephen Foster last year. To me, he won the BC Classic on a speed favoring track and hasn't won else to gratify himself as one of the elite older horses. I'll take Take Charge Indy with Ron the Greek closing for my exacta box.
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
That's right. The jockey just had to point him in the right direction for the BC. The bias did the rest. Nobody in two turn dirt races came back from more than 1 1/2 lengths back after 1/4 mile... It's big mistake, imo, to have a second tier jockey on a top horse against better riders. Won't matter if he has a clean trip, but the quality of split second decision making is affected.
myjockwon More than 1 year ago
what kind of riders rode the BC classic last year. IMO your an idiot. just saying
Bryan E More than 1 year ago
I have to agree. He may win if he gets the right trip but if it comes down to jockey decisions, like it sometimes does, I'd feel better with a better jockey. In the Breeders Cup he gunned it to the lead and had the rail. That doesn't mean he is as good as the other jockeys. And don't listen to people who call you an idiot for expressing your opinion in a nice way. Clearly, he has the problem, not you. I disagree with a lot of people but I don't think that makes them all idiots.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Has Wilkes slipped a cog?
Jeffrey More than 1 year ago
His first race back at Gulfstream he dominated, albeit without a jockey. Second race he reacts at Oaklawn Park where so many other horses have too. Back at Churchill where he has had some success. Watchout! Be careful not to write this horse off!
Big Bob More than 1 year ago
C'mon Jeff, let people write him off. I want to cash in close to 9-1 again.
Elijah Allison More than 1 year ago
Me too but its hard to write off a breeders cup winner