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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Fort Larned loses rider, Discreet Dancer pounces

There are several ways to look at today’s running of the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap.


Most importantly, it appears that the Breeders’ Cup Classic champion, Fort Larned, as well as rider, Brian Hernandez, escaped serious injury. Concern for the pair was all that could be thought about after watching the terrible stumble out of the gate by the heavy favorite that dumped his regular rider. It appears the stumble was caused by Fort Larned being a little over eager in his first race back since his biggest career win four months ago. Reaching too far, the five-year-old son of E Dubai grabbed a quarter and went down to his knees, leaving Hernandez nowhere to go but down. The video of the incident can be viewed here.


The bizarre early turn to the Gulfstream Park feature should not; however, be the only story to the one mile affair. With Fort Larned out of the equation, second choice, Discreet Dancer turned in a topnotch performance.  Pressuring the early pace set by the graded stakes winning, Fort Loudon, Discreet Dancer took command on the far turn on his way to an effortless looking 5 ¼ length victory over the late running Swagger Jack. The winner raised his record to four wins from just five career starts, and marked an impressive follow-up to a sharp allowance win after nearly a full year away from the races for trainer, Todd Pletcher. Final time for the four-year-old son of Discreet Cat was 1:35.17. The victory aboard Discreet Dancer was rider, Javier Castellano’s fifth on the card.


Finally, and only knowing that he appears to be OK do I say this, but the riderless, Fort Larned ran an awfully impressive race. After the incident out of the gate, the talented horse was able to regain his footing, and immediately got back to running. A deserving 3-5 favorite of the bettors, he passed his weighted down competition like a shot up the rail and continued to draw away from them every step of the way. In the stretch, he looked very much like Secretariat in the Belmont, as he was so far ahead of the others that they no longer appeared to be part of the same race. Granted he did not have the 125 pounds assigned to him, but who knows how fast Fort Larned finished the mile? It was also a professional performance that is rarely seen by riderless horses. He continued that theme by easing up after the clubhouse turn without running off, probably wondering why he wasn’t the horse being led into the winner’s circle. This prompted trainer Ian Wilkes to joke about not getting paid for the win.


After the first few seconds of the race, I cannot tell you how happy I am that jokes were able to be made.  


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Older Comments about Fort Larned loses rider, Discreet Dancer pounces...

Watching that horse fly by the other horse's with jockey's. It makes me wonder how much jockeys hold horse's. ???? Just saying
His run without a rider sure makes Big Red's Belmont with a rider look even more impressive.
Thinking about starting a "Give Fort Larned the World Record" movement ... Who's with me???
Swear I said this about Discreet Dancer last year. I'm sure someone could confirm, but he just has that sprinter's build. Huge hind end. Hoping for great things from this guy. Maybe he can make up for the short career of Caleb's Posse (I hope).
Who says you need a jockey to win a race? ;)
Fort Larned aside, Discreet Dancer ran a fantastic race. He's a beautiful horse as well.
he knew he won, & was probably confused why he wasn't being led to the winner's circle!
With Hernandez still aboard, it would have just been a paid workout because rider or no rider he was clearly the best. Glad he's okay.
Just goes to show how well trained some of these horses are - they know how to save ground, when to switch leads, and when to pull up all by themselves! I hate that he grabbed a quarter (prolly hurtin like hell right about now), but I'm glad that all he came out of it with, and that his rider got nothin but dirty..that was a nasty stumble!
Apparently he knew where the finish line was because you can see him on the screen in the gallop-out just ahead of the winner. I've seen several times when an older gelding would lose a rider, rate himself, and pass the front horse just before the wire. Then, pull himself up. They know the score.
Glad he's ok! Show this race to all the people that say racing is cruel and tell me that isn't a horse that loves his job!
i keep watching this race over & over again. & from what i've heard, it sounds like Fort Larned was having some fun! it took awhile for them to catch him.
That will serve as a heck of a workout for Fort Larned. I hope he didn't damage the hoof too much when he grabbed the quarter. 102 BSF for Discreet Dancer, who will make some noise in the sprint division. Big day for the Toddster!

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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