Hughes barreled to the
lead and never looked back on route to a stakes-record victory in the 27th
running of the $65,000 Jimmy Winkfield Monday afternoon at Aqueduct Racetrack.
With Royal Currier giving chase, the muscular chestnut son
of Henny Hughes broke sharply and sped through an opening quarter in 22.21 and
a half-mile in 44.67 under jockey Eddie Castro. As the field of six 3-year-olds
turned for home, Fort Hughes began opening through the lane, and hit the wire 4
¾ lengths ahead of Royal Currier for his second win in three starts.
Fort Hughes covered the six furlongs in 1:08.33, clipping
three-fifths of a second off Farmonthefreeway’s 1993 stakes mark of 1:08 4/5.
The inner track record is 1:07.93.
“He’s really coming into his own, better than we could have
imagined earlier,” said Artie Magnuson, assistant to winning trainer Kiaran
McLaughlin. “We’re happy with where he is right now in terms of his
development. We were very excited about him after his first race.”
A Darley Stable homebred, Fort Hughes made his first start
at Belmont Park on October 11, rolling to a 5 ½-length victory that earned him
a spot in the “New York Watch”
series, which profiles up-and-coming horses as they clear the maiden ranks on
the NYRA circuit. In his next start on December 21, the colt was beaten a head
by Royal Currier in the Southampton at Parx
Racing as the odds-on choice.
Sent off at 7-5 by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day crowd of
4,182, Fort Hughes returned $4.80 for a $2 win bet
and lifted his earnings to $84,600.
“We’ll look at the Fred ‘Cappy’
Capossela [March 5] next, unless [Darley America
president] Jimmy Bell and Kiaran want to take him to Florida,” said Magnuson.
Royal Currier, whose two-race stakes-winning streak was
halted, was 2 ¾ lengths ahead of Rift, who was followed in turn by Bravo Romeo,
Running Tap, and Bambi Bound.