Photo: Eclipse Spotswire
Coming off his impressive
performance in the June’s Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), Fort Larned has been
installed as the 7-5 morning line favorite in Saturday’s Whitney Handicap (G1).
Fort Larned will attempt
to join the elite company of horses that have more than one victory in the
Whitney. In 2008 Commentator won his second Whitney, three years after his
initial victory. Hall of Famer Kelso won the Whitney three times in 1961, 1963,
and 1965. Discovery is the only
horse to win consecutive Whitneys and he won three in 1934, 1935, and 1936.
A field of eight has
assembled for this, the 86th running of the Whitney. The field
includes four horses that are millionaires and between them they have won almost
$10 million. The field also includes several horses that are looking to return
to their best form when they won major stakes races.
The Whitney is part of the
Breeder’s Cup Challenge series with the winner getting a spot in this year’s
Successful Dan (ML 12-1), the older half-brother of reigning horse of the year Wise
Dan, has only started once in 2013 in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs and
that was a fourth place finish 15 lengths behind Fort Larned. Last year
Successful Dan won the Ben Ali (G3) and the Alysheba (G1), when he did defeat
LoPresti’s: “I hope he shows up. He didn’t run his race at all there at
Churchill. He’s never run a bad race over that track, but no one was going to
beat Fort Larned that night. He was just an incredible horse that night. I’m a
little worried about this one post and all the speed outside. He has a lot of
talent and when he is right he is really good. He is training really well. I
think he is going to have a big effort, at least I hope so.”
Mucho Macho Man (ML 6-1) was brilliant in the 2012 Breeder’s Cup Classic when he
narrowly lost the race to Fort Larned and with it a chance at Horse of the
Year. This year has not started well for Mucho Macho Man with two sub par races
and he is still in search of his first career grade one stakes victory.
Owner Dean Reeves:
“Everything went our way in 2012. We had tough start to this 2013, but we have
a lot of confidence that the rest of the year will be great. We think he has
gotten back into a position where he was last year. With all of the speed in the race the horse needs to break
Fort Larned (ML 7-5) got back to his top form when he defeated both Successful
Dan and Ron the Greek in his tour de force win in the Stephen Foster. He
rebounded from the Oaklawn Handicap where he was uncharacteristically
Trainer Ian Wilkes: “He’s
tactical; he can sit behind. Don’t forget Mucho Macho Man is a fast horse, as
well. All three speed horses drew on the inside here. It’ll be up to Brian. He
can sit; that’s not a problem. It’s just important to
get out of the gates and have a good, clean break. That’s probably the key to
Cross Traffic (ML 5-2) is one of the three speed horses in this race. In the one
mile Westchester and Metropolitan, Cross traffic set very fast fractions, and
in both races he was beaten right at the finish line. The Whitney adds another
furlong for this Todd Pletcher trainee.
Ron the Greek (ML 6-1) has been an inconsistent sort throughout a career when he
has battled with the best handicap horses in the country. With eight wins he
has earned over $2 million.
Trainer Bill Mott: “We
planned the race for Ron the Greek. Like a lot of horses he doesn’t run his
best race every time. It seems like about every third shot he jumps up and runs
a good one. Looking back we felt his biggest race of last year was the Whitney,
although we were second. We thought on that day that we were getting at Fort
Alpha (ML 10-1) has not been able to duplicate his best win in the Travers last year.
Since that race he has started five times with a fourth place the best finish.
On his side is an unbeaten record at Saratoga from three starts.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin:
“He’s not the best gate horse. We school him all the time, but he gets amped up
on race day. He loves it here. We hope the track is to our favor. He looks
fabulous and he couldn’t be doing better, but we have found a tough field to
Csaba (ML 20-1) is a very consistent runner with nine wins from 20 career starts.
Csaba is another horse that likes to be forwardly placed, but he does have two
wins at this nine-furlong distance.
Trainer Phil Gleaves: “Our
original plan was to run in an overnight stake on Friday as a prep for the
Woodward and let these horses knock themselves out a little bit, but when that
race didn’t fill, we decided that he should be in here. I’ve never seen the
horse look better. I’ve never seen the horse train better. The odds don’t
bother me. I think he fits with theses horses.”
Fast Falcon (ML 15-1), who is trained by Nick Zito, comes into the Whitney with
only a maiden victory in 10 tries, although he has finished in the money eight
times. Fast Falcon has flashed talent with a third place finish in the Travers
and Brooklyn Handicap.