03/09/2013 8:06PM

Gulfstream: Discreet Dancer wins Handicap as Fort Larned loses rider at start

Eleanor Gustafson
A riderless Fort Larned streaks into the stretch of the Gulfstream Park Handicap while Discreet Dancer leads the remainder of the field en route to his official victory.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. --  Todd Pletcher was still in the Tampa Bay Downs winner’s circle following Verrazano’s smashing victory in the Tampa Bay Derby when the field, including his Discreet Dancer, broke for Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap. And it’s surprising he was unable hear the gasp that went up from the crowd just seconds later when Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned stumbled badly just two strides out of the gate and unseated his jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.

The startling turn of events somewhat tempered the tremendous performance of Discreet Dancer($5.80), who withstood an early speed duel with Fort Loudon before drawing away to a convincing 5 ¼-length decision over Swagger Jack in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap. Fort Loudon finished a tiring third followed by Gourmet Dinner and Decaf Again.

The win was the fifth of the day for jockey Javier Castellano.

The riderless Fort Larned recovered from his mishap at the gate to quickly run past the field midway down the backstretch, eventually crossing the finish line about a sixteenth of a mile in front of the field before pulling up around the turn. Fortunately both Fort Larned and Hernandez returned from the incident without any serious injuries.

“He grabbed that left front, not even on the bulb of the heel but up in the middle of the heel, way up high on the foot, that’s why he just went to his head,” said Wilkes. “Brian said it was the second jump. He just stumbled. He stood good, he just over-reached. Just getting fresh, just getting back to the races.”

Wilkes was surprisingly upbeat once able to check out Fort Larned and discover his injuries seemed to be superficial.

“He won, he won but I don’t think I’ll get paid, that’s the problem,” Wilkes quipped. “At least he didn’t run off the track. He’s a very intelligent horse. He came around the turn, finished up the race and then went out.”

Wilkes said it will take a couple of days to just make sure Fort Larned is okay before deciding on when or where he might run next.

Pletcher, by phone from Tampa, said he did not get to see the Gulfstream Park Handicap live and was only able to watch the last three furlongs of the head-on replay.

“I hate to win a race like that I really feel bad for the connections of Fort Larned,” said Pletcher. “Hopefully everything will be okay with their horse.”

Pletcher was elated, as expected, by the performance of Discreet Dancer who won for the fourth time in five career starts while recording his first graded stakes victory for the E Paul Robsham Stables.

“I was really pleased with the way he was training into the race, although you never think you can beat the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner,” said Pletcher. “But I was excited about running him and I’m glad he showed up as well as he did.”

Pletcher said he has no immediate plans regarding Discreet Dancer’s next start.

commenting More than 1 year ago
A link to "How Fast did Fort Larned Run..." http://www.followhorseracing.com/en/the-latest/blogs/2013/03/11/so-how-fast-did-fort-larned-run/
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
What I found interesting is that the horse resorted to what he knows and went right to the rail. It happens to Breeders Cup Champions too.
Elijah Allison More than 1 year ago
Worst post break I've seen in a while, I love fort larned so glad he didnt get hurt, he.has a lot of races to win yet!
John More than 1 year ago
Interesting day of racing ! To say the least !............. Dont discount Falshback just yet, insane fractions, he was 3 wide in a 22 45.1 and 1:09.2 then just getting nailed at the wire. If he settles, with that speed, he will win the Santa Anita Derby ! Goldencents needs to concentrate on winning some shorter races, he is fast, but I think too fast for a classic distance.
Black More than 1 year ago
Ha Ha . You censored that post. You're a clocker . You know damn well that the horses pull up and go outside when the work is over. LOL. And you know damn well that loose horses almost always win. Grow up !
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
WOW! What a shame. No doubt Fort Larned would have won this with ease.
Tex Renegade More than 1 year ago
That's what happens when you try to run two horses in the same race whose named both begin with "Fort"...
Elijah Allison More than 1 year ago
Thats the dumbest thing I ever heard
radnor87 More than 1 year ago
The posts suggesting the rider jumped off are too stupid to believe. Try watching the replay again. If you had ever broken a horse from the gate yourselves you would have some appreciation of what these jockeys do every day while being chased by an ambulance .jump off , yeah, you try it .im not naive enough to think that there have been and always will be races in which the outcome is deliberately altered by a jockey or jockeys, but this race isn't one of them .
Steve Brady More than 1 year ago
Agreed. Anyone who thinks the rider jumped off on purpose is a dumbass. And riderless horses do not beat the field to the wire "98% of the time." And they certainly don't do it by 100 yards.
Keith Strouhal More than 1 year ago
Steve , you are a dumbass.
Steve Seger More than 1 year ago
The race was fixed, as jockey jumps off favorite. I have been around racing for over 45 years, and have seen too many jockeys jump off at the start, or pull up their horse with a mystery injury, and it is the favorite most of the time. I actually love it, cause I toss the chalk right out , and the trifecta's, and supers return good payoffs, instead of coffee change. Fort Larned is a great horse, and would have won easily, but its the jumping jockey who you have to be concerned with.For those chalk lovers who don't agree, then keep betting them, and toss your cash in the trash.
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Steve Seger More than 1 year ago
Brian Hernandez is a damn good jockey, but jockeys have many secrets up their sleeve to make the horse stumble out of the gate. They can easily discard a sharp object that they use to sting the horse out of the gate. Many naive horse players who spend 10 hours a day reading the Drf will not admit the jockey fixing to offset their so called brilliant handicapping. Weight, weather, track condition, shadow rolls, and most of all crooked race fixing , by stiffing the chalk are all part of this great game of horse racing. Guys like Keith Strouhal will say its an unfortunate incident, and think its real, and that's why they get away with it again, and again.
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Steve Seger More than 1 year ago
I don't need meds. I have a couple Budweisers instead, but I should have posted my advice earlier to help bettors make some money. When a jockey (B.Hernandez) jumps off a horse, he comes right back , and has a great day. He had 3 winners, and 2 secomds today at FG. This inside info that I know, never makes it to the Drf.
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
And had he jumped off and broke his arm, he would have had a great day at the Orthopedic Surgeon. This Steve guy needs some help, do we have a shrink in the house?
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
What? Did you not see the horse go straight down? No fix job there. Nobody was going to stay on after that start.
Steve Seger More than 1 year ago
I saw the horse kiss the dirt, but jockeys have amazing balance, and coordination to overcome these mishaps. They can be just as talented as rodeo riders, and stay on the animal.
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
You're haven't got a clue buddy. I have a close friend who won 6450 races in his career and still fell off plenty of times. This is never planned, the ground breaks away underneath shod hooves all the time, not as badly on the synthetics but natural dirt has tendencies to clod together and then crumble when stepped on sometimnes throwing the animal off balance as if your ankle rolled by stepping on a rock or an uneven surface. It happens and it is unfortunate but we must stop any conspiracy theories to defraud the betting public. The favourite wins at about a 33% clip over the last couple hundred years so every race the house makes 66% minus Government taxes. They don't care who wins, they benefit regardless. Small fields mean small payouts usually so there isn't tons of money to be won taken out of the mutuals and last but n ot least the riders share. Castellano had already won four on the day and was on probably the second best horse in the race. Those that fancied Fort Loudon can't handicap and should be reading Ainslie on Handicapping instead of this. So when Fort Larned stumbles it drops the 10% right into Castellano's lap, no fault of his own. Stop with all the nonsense and jockey bashing, Fort Larned is no Seattle Slew or Secretariat, not even close to a Tiz Now just yet so let's not immortalize him off of a wild gallop around Gulfstream Park.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
You should be pensioned - on Pablum.
Elijah Allison More than 1 year ago
How ignorant are you? I can certainly say you didn't watch the race you idiot
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
So Brian Hernandez shoved the horses head into the dirt? This kid has never been and may never be on a horse more successful. I highly doubt he threw the race.
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
Makes perfect sense to me sir.