Fort Larned (KY)
(E Dubai x Arlucea, by Broad Brush)
- Trainer: Ian Wilkes (Capt. Candyman Can, Warrior’s Reward, Bearpath)
- Jockey: Brian Joseph Hernandez Jr
- Owned by: Janis R. Whitham
- Career Record: 18: 7-2-1
- Earnings: $981,236
- 2012 Record: 8: 4-1-1
- TrueNicks rating: “A++” Variant 51.33
- Highest Equibase Speed Figure of 2012: 123
- Lost last prep [3rd, Jockey Club Gold Cup (I), by 5 1/2 lengths]
- 50% win ratio
Summary: One of the fastest horses on the east coast, the big bay horse was a brilliant underdog at the start of the year and has since gained some stature following his big win in the Whitney (I). Flashing impressive speed on or near the pace, he is a tough one to catch no matter where he ships.
Prep Schedule: He was blank when 4th in a February handicap at Tampa Bay Downs, but then suddenly improved a month later in the 1 1/16-mile Challenger Stakes. He then shipped to Gulfstream where he skipped away with the win and the track record for the 1 1/16-mile Skip Away (III) by 2 1/2 lengths. Taking a short break, he then shipped to Churchill to be beaten just a length in the 1 1/16-mile Alysheba (II) by Successful Dan before getting carried out to be last in the Stephen Foster (I). Taking no comers as a longshot, he wired the 9-furlong Cornhusker (III) at Prairie Meadows to win by 3 before grabbing his first G1 in the 9-furlong Whitney (I) by 1 1/4. Going wide on the wet dirt, he managed a tiring 3rd in the 10-furlong Jockey Club Gold Cup (I).
Running Style: Near the pace
Pros: Speed combined with awesome conditioning is what makes Fort Larned such a leering menace in the Classic picture. When he wins, he does so effortlessly, and as I mentioned above he won in half his efforts this year. A fast horse like Fort Larned should love the speedy track at Santa Anita not to mention he has the conformation to be a champion.
Cons: He has no wins at 10 furlongs and his Achilles heel is getting worn down by other jockeys floating him out. With a lot of speed heading into this race, he could be forced to go too wide.
Final Word: I love how Wilkes is conditioning this horse carefully up to the Classic, and on his really fierce days, there are few that could present a viable challenge to Fort Larned. He has all the makings of a classic champion: speed, stamina, conformation, and game.