Breeders’ Cup Classic winner
had his penultimate tune-up Saturday morning for his title defense in
the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap, breezing five furlongs in
1:03.81 over the main track.
“It was a little slower than what I wanted, but the track was a
little dead this morning, and it was a work to set up a work,” said Ian
Wilkes, who trains
Larned for owner Janis Whitham. “We’ll come back [next week] and get a major work with him off this.”
Larned, who earned
his first Grade 1 in last year’s 1 1/8-mile Whitney, enters this year’s
edition off a eye-catching 6 ¼-length victory in the Grade 1 Stephen
Foster Handicap on June 15 at Churchill Downs.
It was the 5-year-old’s first win since the 2012 Classic, having lost
his rider two strides out of the gate in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park
Handicap on March 9 and then finishing a non-threatening fifth in the
Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap a month later.
“The first one, the stumble, that was a thing which took more
out of him than you think,” said Wilkes. “If I’d stuck with my original
plan [and not run at Oaklawn] that
would be fine, but I could second-guess myself all day long.
“He got a lot out of his last race,” he added. “He ran fast [1:47.45] and the track wasn’t a fast track that night.”
Wilkes is also supervising Grade 2 Jim Dandy hopeful
Looking Cool, trained by
his former boss, the semi-retired Hall of Famer Carl Nafzger, who won
the 2007 Jim Dandy and Travers with Street Sense.
“He worked yesterday [4 furlongs, 49.77] and will work again
either Monday or Tuesday,” said Wilkes of Looking Cool, winner of the
Grade 3 Iowa Derby last time out.
“Carl is enjoying this one. It’s always fun to have a 3-year-old.”