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Fort Larned readies for Jockey Club Gold Cup

Fort Larned wins 2012 Whitney
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap winner Fort Larned turned in his final serious work this morning for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational, covering five furlongs in 1:01.04 shortly after 6:30 a.m. over the main track.


Exercise rider Kate Merritt was aboard for the move, the fourth-fastest of 11 at the distance.


“He did exactly what we wanted him to do, and went very well,” said Peggy Dunleavy, assistant to trainer Ian Wilkes. “He was very professional, and did it the right way.”


The 4-year-old Fort Larned heads into the 1 ¼-mile TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup having put together impressive back-to-back victories in the August 4 Whitney, for which he earned a career-best 110 Beyer Speed Figure, and the Grade 3 Cornhusker on June 30, when he ran a 108 Beyer.


Maintaining that form, said Dunleavy, has been a primary focus.


“Keeping him happy is the key,” she said. “It’s an easy ship from Saratoga to here, and we’re keeping the same basic routine. He likes this track, to be quite honest. He’s a pretty easy horse to be around.”


Wilkes, who was at Belmont Saturday to saddle Island Bound in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap, departed for Kentucky Sunday morning and will return on Thursday, said Dunleavy.


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