Race of the Week 2017

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A New York State of Racing

Fort Larned Heads the Whitney Handicap

Fort Larned BC 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Spotswire
Coming off his impressive performance in the June’s Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), Fort Larned has been installed as the 7-5 morning line favorite in Saturday’s Whitney Handicap (G1).
Fort Larned will attempt to join the elite company of horses that have more than one victory in the Whitney. In 2008 Commentator won his second Whitney, three years after his initial victory. Hall of Famer Kelso won the Whitney three times in 1961, 1963, and 1965.  Discovery is the only horse to win consecutive Whitneys and he won three in 1934, 1935, and 1936.
A field of eight has assembled for this, the 86th running of the Whitney. The field includes four horses that are millionaires and between them they have won almost $10 million. The field also includes several horses that are looking to return to their best form when they won major stakes races.
The Whitney is part of the Breeder’s Cup Challenge series with the winner getting a spot in this year’s Classic.
Successful Dan (ML 12-1), the older half-brother of reigning horse of the year Wise Dan, has only started once in 2013 in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs and that was a fourth place finish 15 lengths behind Fort Larned. Last year Successful Dan won the Ben Ali (G3) and the Alysheba (G1), when he did defeat Fort Larned.
Trainer Charlie LoPresti’s: “I hope he shows up. He didn’t run his race at all there at Churchill. He’s never run a bad race over that track, but no one was going to beat Fort Larned that night. He was just an incredible horse that night. I’m a little worried about this one post and all the speed outside. He has a lot of talent and when he is right he is really good. He is training really well. I think he is going to have a big effort, at least I hope so.”
Mucho Macho Man (ML 6-1) was brilliant in the 2012 Breeder’s Cup Classic when he narrowly lost the race to Fort Larned and with it a chance at Horse of the Year. This year has not started well for Mucho Macho Man with two sub par races and he is still in search of his first career grade one stakes victory.
Owner Dean Reeves: “Everything went our way in 2012. We had tough start to this 2013, but we have a lot of confidence that the rest of the year will be great. We think he has gotten back into a position where he was last year.  With all of the speed in the race the horse needs to break well.”
Fort Larned (ML 7-5) got back to his top form when he defeated both Successful Dan and Ron the Greek in his tour de force win in the Stephen Foster. He rebounded from the Oaklawn Handicap where he was uncharacteristically uncompetitive.
Trainer Ian Wilkes: “He’s tactical; he can sit behind. Don’t forget Mucho Macho Man is a fast horse, as well. All three speed horses drew on the inside here. It’ll be up to Brian. He can sit; that’s not a problem.  It’s just important to get out of the gates and have a good, clean break. That’s probably the key to it all.”
Cross Traffic (ML 5-2) is one of the three speed horses in this race. In the one mile Westchester and Metropolitan, Cross traffic set very fast fractions, and in both races he was beaten right at the finish line. The Whitney adds another furlong for this Todd Pletcher trainee.
Ron the Greek (ML 6-1) has been an inconsistent sort throughout a career when he has battled with the best handicap horses in the country. With eight wins he has earned over $2 million.
Trainer Bill Mott: “We planned the race for Ron the Greek. Like a lot of horses he doesn’t run his best race every time. It seems like about every third shot he jumps up and runs a good one. Looking back we felt his biggest race of last year was the Whitney, although we were second. We thought on that day that we were getting at Fort Larned.”
Alpha (ML 10-1) has not been able to duplicate his best win in the Travers last year. Since that race he has started five times with a fourth place the best finish. On his side is an unbeaten record at Saratoga from three starts.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin: “He’s not the best gate horse. We school him all the time, but he gets amped up on race day. He loves it here. We hope the track is to our favor. He looks fabulous and he couldn’t be doing better, but we have found a tough field to run against.”
Csaba (ML 20-1) is a very consistent runner with nine wins from 20 career starts. Csaba is another horse that likes to be forwardly placed, but he does have two wins at this nine-furlong distance.
Trainer Phil Gleaves: “Our original plan was to run in an overnight stake on Friday as a prep for the Woodward and let these horses knock themselves out a little bit, but when that race didn’t fill, we decided that he should be in here. I’ve never seen the horse look better. I’ve never seen the horse train better. The odds don’t bother me. I think he fits with theses horses.”
Fast Falcon (ML 15-1), who is trained by Nick Zito, comes into the Whitney with only a maiden victory in 10 tries, although he has finished in the money eight times. Fast Falcon has flashed talent with a third place finish in the Travers and Brooklyn Handicap. 


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Older Comments about Fort Larned Heads the Whitney Handicap...

6,3,1,2 If Alpha doesn't get amped up, he'll give Ft. Larned a run and get his nose in front, I hope.
WTF are you talking abou Rafi?. Travel_Vic- The Mum I could tolerate. Strong as an Ox.
@Ed >> Until he called me a troll? :) >> EP Taylor >> Cross Traffic seems not without a chance, eh?
Fort Larned; Mucho Macho Man; Successful Dan; Cross Traffic.
  • Sully · Oh, and find a place for Alpha in your gimmicks. He seems to love the spa, and that last work tells me he has a good shot. · 1572 days ago
EP Taylor= On the Gallop's= Marcello.... I like them all, they're "all" classy and good folk. I don't see the need for three accounts, but whatever. @Amino, not to lie, but when you first started posting I thought you were OTG ;).
E P Taylor >> Ya’ll missed a good bet a few years back. http://www.mopo.ca/2006/07/canadas-new-bank-notes-redesigned-20.html >> Anyone know the whereabouts of On The Gallops?
Don't miss the pennies clogging up my pocket however
I am just surprised they accepted such a downright horrid likeness of the woman to replace a not too bad one.
Travel_Vic - Don't you just love our play money?....I can't wait for the day they remove the old hag off the bill, and put an even more attractive Charles...
correct style, even before looking at the past performances
Is this the main thread for this race? 3,4,5,6.
if Fort Larned is on his game, i think he is unbeatable.
Cross Traffic. Don't count out Fast Falcon in your super
Isn't the new PLASTIC money crap..How about the Queen's new mug on the 20, if I were her I would have rejected it in lieu of the portrait on the old bill
A nice bet to win on Successful Dan in this one...hope he goes off at least 6-1
I will take me some Big Mucho. I got one canadian brown note to win on him.
12-1 on Successful Dan looks pretty good.

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.


Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.


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