11/02/2012 5:07PM

Churchill Downs: Neck 'n Neck comes from off the pace to win Ack Ack

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Neck 'n Neck, with Brian Hernandez Jr. riding, leads the field to the wire in the Ack Ack.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Those looking for a reason to back Fort Larned in Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic may have received favorable signal in Friday's Grade 3, $110,400 Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill Downs when Fort Larned's workmate, Neck 'n Neck, scored a comfortable 2 1/4-length victory.The win came for the same trainer/jockey team of Fort Larned: Ian Wilkes and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.

Of the duo only Hernandez was on hand at Churchill Friday, placing Neck 'n Neck in sixth early in the field of seven, and urging him past his six rivals in the lane.

"We got the one today, which we thought we would," said Hernandez. "Hopefully it sets up for tomorrow and we can get the big prize."

Neck 'n Neck won the Ack Ack in much the same manner he took the Indiana Derby on Oct. 6 -- with an eye-catching outside rally, albeit one aided by a contested pace.

That pace was set by favored Dominus, who set fractions of 46.95 seconds and 1:11.86 in the one-mile dirt race, under pressure from King's Bishop runner-up Fort Loudon.

Fort Loudon proved game in the stretch, holding second in a blanket finish for the place. Stealcase ran third, giving 3-year-olds a sweep of the top three positions in the Ack Ack, a race for 3-year-olds and up.

The order of finish was completed by Seruni, favored Dominus, Zimmer, and Grand Berry.

Good Lord was scratched.

The winner, a 3-year-old colt by Flower Alley owned and bred by A. Stevens Miles Jr., ran a mile in 1:36.38. He paid $5.40 as the second choice.

Likely next for Neck 'n Neck is the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs Nov. 23. Prior to heading to California for the Breeders' Cup, Wilkes expressed an interest in running Neck 'n Neck there.