Janis Whitham's Fort Larned, the reigning winner of the $5 million
Breeders' Cup Classic (Grade I), is set for a final pre-race tune-up on
Monday at Churchill Downs before he boards a Tuesday flight to
California for his bid for a rare second consecutive victory in the
Championships' main event on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Trainer Ian Wilkes said the 5-year-old son of E Dubai, who has scored
his pair of 2013 victories at Churchill Downs in the Grade I Stephen
Foster Handicap (GI) and the inaugural Homecoming Classic in September,
would work under regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. would work shortly
after the track opens for training at 6 a.m. (all times EDT).
The work will be the third in nine days. He breezed a half-mile in :49
on Oct. 19 and followed that move with a very sharp five furlongs in
1:00.60 over a fast surface on Oct. 22. Fort Larned worked in company
with his stablemate Neck 'n Neck, winner of the 2012 Ack Ack (GIII) and
Indiana Derby (GII), in a drill that was the fastest of 32 at the
"It was a very good work," Wilkes said. "It was
everything you wanted to see. The thing about it is he's taking me where
I want to go. I'm not taking him to the Breeders' Cup - he's taking me
Wilkes is operating on the same shipping schedule as
the successful one laid out a year ago for Fort Larned. He will board a
flight for California on Tuesday for the journey to the West Coast. Fort
Larned also was scheduled to leave on that day a year ago, but weather
issues delayed his scheduled flight by a day. The travel
forecast looks clear for Tuesday and Wilkes hopes for clear sailing,
both in Fort Larned's journey west and in the 1 ¼-mile Classic.
"I've got no worries in the world that my horse is going to show up,"
Wilkes said. "He's going to run his 'A' game. It's just a matter of
whether he's good enough. It's a good race and it's a quality field.
They don't just give this race to you, but I'm going in there very happy
with my horse."
Fort Larned takes a career record of 10-2-1
in 24 races and earnings of $4,171,322 into his Classic defense. A
victory on Saturday would make Fort Larned only the second horse to win
the race twice. Tiznow won the Classic in back-to-back years in 2000 and
2001, with the former win coming at Churchill Downs in his 3-year-old