07/31/2013 11:31AM

Saratoga: Fort Larned in post 3, made 7-5 for Whitney defense

Barbara D. Livingston
Fort Larned will try to become the first horse since Discovery in the 1930s to win back-to-back Whitneys.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Defending Whitney Handicap winner Fort Larned drew post 3 and was installed as the 7-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday's 86th renewal of the Whitney Invitational Handicap at Saratoga.

Fort Larned will seek to become the first horse since Discovery to win back-to-back Whitneys. Discovery won three straight from 1934-36. Kelso (1961-63-65) and Commentator (2005, '08) were also multiple winners.

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Fort Larned is coming off a monster 6 1/4-length victory in the Stephen Foster Handicap last out at Churchill Downs, his first win since taking last November's Breeders' Cup Classic.

He drew post 3, in between two other speed horses, Mucho Macho Man to his immediate inside and Cross Traffic to his immediate outside.

Fort Larned won the Stephen Foster in front-running fashion. He came from a stalking third to win last year's Whitney.

"It'll be up to Brian," trainer Ian Wilkes said, referring to jockey Brian Hernandez. "It's important to get out of the gate. A good clean break, that's the key to it all."

[SARATOGA 2013: Complete meet coverage, exclusive DRF videos]

Mucho Macho Man returns to Grade 1 competition for the first time since he ran second to Fort Larned in the Breeders' Cup Classic. He is winless in two starts this year.

Ron the Greek, second in last year's Whitney in what trainer Bill Mott believes was the multiple Grade 1 winner's best race of 2012, drew post 6.

Successful Dan, who beat Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man in the Grade 2 Alysheba last year, will try to bounce back from a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster. He drew the rail.

Others entered include Alpha, last year's co-Travers winner, Cross Traffic, this year's Met Mile runner-up, Csaba, this year's Grade 3 Hal's Hope winner, and Fast Falcon, third in the Suburban and Brooklyn.

The Whitney is a Breeders' Cup Win and You're In race, earning the winner a fees-paid berth in the BC Classic.

[BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Win and You’re In schedule and results]

The Whitney will be shown live on a one-hour telecast on NBC Sports from 5-6 p.m. Eastern.