are several ways to look at today’s running of the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park
Most importantly, it appears that the Breeders’ Cup Classic champion, Fort Larned, as well as rider, Brian Hernandez, escaped
serious injury. Concern for the pair was all that could be thought about after
watching the terrible stumble out of the gate by the heavy favorite that dumped
his regular rider. It appears the stumble was caused by Fort Larned being a little
over eager in his first race back since his biggest career win four months ago.
Reaching too far, the five-year-old son of E Dubai grabbed a quarter and went
down to his knees, leaving Hernandez nowhere to go but down. The video of the incident can be viewed here.
The bizarre early turn to the Gulfstream Park feature should not;
however, be the only story to the one mile affair. With Fort Larned out of the
equation, second choice, Discreet Dancer turned in a topnotch performance. Pressuring the early pace set by the graded
stakes winning, Fort Loudon, Discreet Dancer took command on the far turn on
his way to an effortless looking 5 ¼ length victory over the late running Swagger Jack.
The winner raised his record to four wins from just five career starts, and
marked an impressive follow-up to a sharp allowance win after nearly a full
year away from the races for trainer, Todd Pletcher. Final time for the four-year-old son of Discreet Cat
was 1:35.17. The victory aboard Discreet Dancer was rider, Javier Castellano’s
fifth on the card.
Finally, and only knowing that he appears to be OK do I say this,
but the riderless, Fort Larned ran an awfully impressive race. After the
incident out of the gate, the talented horse was able to regain his footing,
and immediately got back to running. A deserving 3-5 favorite of the bettors,
he passed his weighted down competition like a shot up the rail and continued
to draw away from them every step of the way. In the stretch, he looked very much like Secretariat in the Belmont, as he was so far ahead of the others that they
no longer appeared to be part of the same race. Granted he did not have the 125
pounds assigned to him, but who knows how fast Fort Larned finished the mile? It was
also a professional performance that is rarely seen by riderless horses. He
continued that theme by easing up after the clubhouse turn without running off, probably wondering why he wasn’t the horse being led into the winner’s circle. This prompted trainer Ian Wilkes to joke about not getting paid for the win.
After the first few seconds of the race, I cannot tell you how happy I am that jokes were able to be made.