08/20/2013 1:15PM

Saratoga: Fort Larned, Successful Dan sharpen for Woodward

Barbara D. Livingston
Fort Larned, with Kate Merritt aboard, works five furlongs in 1:01.06 Tuesday in preparation for the Aug. 31 Woodward.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – When a key workout leading up to the Whitney Handicap didn’t go as planned for Fort Larned, trainer Ian Wilkes made an adjustment and breezed the horse back three days later.

Tuesday, in what was to be Fort Larned’s key workout leading up to the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes on Aug. 31 at Saratoga, Wilkes scripted the move to make sure it went exactly as planned.

With a stablemate about eight lengths in front of him, Fort Larned drilled five furlongs in 1:01.06 while galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.72 and seven furlongs in 1:27.97.

Fort Larned actually began to start moving well before the five-furlong pole and with the company ahead of him, and he got the first three furlongs of the move in 36.66 seconds. Exercise rider Kate Merritt kept Fort Larned on the fence while the rider on the workmate, Broadway Matinee, moved off the rail in the stretch. Fort Larned worked through the lane in 24.38 seconds.

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“I put a longer work in him,” Wilkes said. “It’s what you call a nice, solid work. Watching my horse I felt that’s what he needed. He seemed like he enjoyed it.”

Wilkes said he put Broadway Matinee far enough out in front so Fort Larned “could have a look at him and see him down the lane.”

Wilkes, who was very disappointed with Fort Larned’s fifth-place finish in the Whitney, feels very good where things are with his horse leading up to the Woodward.

“I’m tickled to death where I’m at,” Wilkes said. “We’ll see how he comes out of it and I’ll adjust my work next time if I have to. He’s got to be ready. They’re good horses.”

The top five finishers from the Whitney – Cross Traffic, Successful Dan, Mucho Macho Man, Ron the Greek, and Fort Larned – are expected for the race, as are Paynter and Flat Out.

Successful Dan looks sharp

Successful Dan turned in his final major piece of work for next week’s Woodward, and looked real good doing it, when he breezed an easy-as-can-be five furlongs in 1:01.13 shortly after dawn.

With regular exercise rider Damien Rock aboard, Successful Dan posted splits of 25.45 seconds for the opening quarter and 36.64 for three-eighths before finishing strong without a hint of urging. He then galloped out like a machine around the turn, clipping off another couple of 12-and-change eighth-miles before pulling up one mile at the top of the backstretch in 1:40.02.

“He looked awfully good,” trainer Charlie LoPresti said a couple of hours later. “I told Damien I kind of wanted the same work as last week. I didn’t want to really ask him for much. I just wanted Dan to drag him around there but keep that brake on. He doesn’t need to work fast now after the last race.”

Successful Dan is coming off a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Whitney after having fallen while making his way from the paddock out to the racetrack.

“This was his last major work for the Woodward,” said LoPresti. “I might just let him open gallop down the lane a couple of days before the race. I think he’ll be sharper this time, lay a little closer to the pace, than he did in the last one.”

LoPresti is still trying to figure out what caused Successful Dan to lose his concentration and fall making his way to the racetrack before the Whitney.

“He’s never done that kind of thing before,” said LoPresti. “I schooled him [Monday] in the paddock and he kind of looked up at those flags whipping in the wind. Maybe that’s what did it. He was on the engine over there yesterday. Believe me, he was on his toes, and I’ll definitely take him over and school him several more times before the race.”

As for Wise Dan, he successfully defended his title in the Grade 2 Fourstardave earlier this month, and he could try to do the same in the Woodbine Mile on Sept. 15.

“I’m going to wait and see what Turallure does next week in the Bernard Baruch,” said LoPresti. “I’ve just been kind of piddling around with Wise Dan, jogging him and galloping him. I’ll probably give him a little breeze at the end of the week just to keep him ticking over. If Turallure should happen to win the Bernard Baruch, I might think about him in the Shadwell, and that would let me change my mind and go to Canada with Wise Dan so I didn’t have them together.”

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch