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Fort Larned to Work for BC Classic Monday

Fort Larned wins 2013 Homecoming Classic.
Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
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.

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 distance.

"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 there."

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 season.

 

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Fort Larned breezed 5f in 1:01.80 (8/36) at Churchill Downs on 10-28. He galloped out 6f in 1:14.80.

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