03/10/2013 11:46AM

Fort Larned fine after stumbling and losing rider in Gulfstream Park Handicap

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Eleanor Gustafson
Fort Larned finished far ahead of the rest of the field after losing jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. at the start of the Gulfstream Park Handicap.

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Ian Wilkes reported  Sunday morning that Fort Larned was doing well less than 12 hours after stumbling badly and losing his rider leaving the starting gate in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

“He’s walking good this morning,” said Wilkes shortly before dawn Sunday at Palm Meadows. “The cuts he sustained when stumbling are not that bad, just superficial. We’ll know more in a couple of days.”

Wilkes said Fort Larned appeared to have grabbed his left front foot near the middle of the heel after losing his footing two strides out of the starting gate while making his first start Saturday since winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic four and one-half months earlier.  Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. told Wilkes Fort Larned just overstrided and lost his footing at the start. Fort Larned picked himself up after the incident and quickly blew past the rest of the field, crossing the finish line nearly 15 lengths in front of the official winner, Discreet Dancer.

“I guess I’ll have to go back to the tape of the race and time him and see how fast he actually ran,” Wilkes said with a smile. “He still ran hard. He was a little tired this morning, but once I took him out of the stall he brightened up. He got something out the race even though it doesn’t count.”

Wilkes said he’s given no real thought to what might be next for Fort Larned, although he did acknowledge he’d probably nominate him to several of the upcoming stakes in the handicap division, including the Grade 3 Skip Away at Gulfstream on March 30.