01/17/2011 5:31PM

Fort Hughes takes them gate to wire in Jimmy Winkfield Stakes

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
The 3-year-old sprinter Fort Hughes, winner of the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct in January, sustained fatal injuries during a workout at Belmont Park.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Using a sharp break from the gate that was lacking in his loss to Royal Currier at Parx Racing last month, Fort Hughes rolled to an eye-catching 4 3/4-length victory in Monday’s $65,000 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct.

Royal Currier, who defeated Fort Hughes by a head in the Southampton Stakes on Dec. 21, chased Fort Hughes all the way around the track but had to settle for second, 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Rift. Bravo Romeo, Running Tap, and Bambi Bound completed the order of finish. Fort Hughes paid $4.80.

Fort Hughes’s final time of 1:08.33 was a stakes record, eclipsing the mark of 1:08.88 set by Farmonthefreeway when this race was known as the Best Turn in 1993. The final time also was the fastest six furlongs run at the inner-track meeting, besting Calibrachoa’s 1:08.85 in last month’s Gravesend Stakes.

“Wow, nice colt,” said Arthur Magnuson, assistant to winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “That was what we were thinking after his first start. This is a nice animal.”

Fort Hughes, a son of Henny Hughes owned and bred by Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Stable, won his debut at Belmont on Oct. 10, running 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.98. Sent off at 2-5 in the Southampton, Fort Hughes broke a little flat-footed and found himself fourth early. His late rally fell just short to Royal Currier.

On Monday, under Eddie Castro, Fort Hughes broke sharp from the gate and maintained a length lead over Royal Currier through a quarter in 22.21 seconds and a half in 44.67. Turning for home, Castro shook Fort Hughes up and he ran away from Royal Currier under a vigorous hand ride.

“He broke really sharp, and I knew the other horse had speed,” Castro said, referring to Royal Currier. “I put him right there and in the stretch he ran away.”

Magnuson said the quick break from the gate “for sure helped today and Rift didn’t break as well as they thought he probably could. It worked out very well today, and he’s also improving all the time. He’s trained very well in the morning. We were not really disappointed at Philly, just kind of green maybe, but he’s really coming into his own.”

If Fort Hughes stays in New York, he could make his next start in the Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes here March 5.