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Aug 10, 2012

Fort Larned captures Whitney Handicap


Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Fort Larned, ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., took the lead coming out of the turn and went on to win Saturday's $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap at Saratoga Race Course. The four-year- old colt covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.76 on a fast track.

Starting from the outside post in the nine horse field, Fort Larned was making his first start at Saratoga for owner Janis R. Whitham and trainer Ian Wilkes. The colt was 7-1 at post-time behind 5-2 favorite Ron the Greek, 7-2 second choice Hymn Book, 4-1 third pick Flat Out and Trickmeister at 6-1.

Setting the pace was 32-1 longshot Endorsement followed closely by Trickmeister, Fort Larned and Rule. Ron the Greek and jockey Jose Lezcano were trailing the field.

Around the final turn Fort Larned drew even with Trickmeister and Rule from the outside. Hernandez had his mount three wide around the turn for home but was able to take the lead entering the stretch. Making a big move from far outside was Ron the Greek.

Fort Larned opened his advantage nearing the furlong pole as the favorite continued to rally on the outside. Ron the Greek and Flat Out cut into Fort Larned's lead approaching the wire.

Fort Larned hit the finish 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Ron the Greek with Flat Out a head back in third. Rounding out the order of finish were Hymn Book, Trickmeister, Endorsement, Hunters Bay, Caixa Eletronica and Rule.

The victory, part of the "Win and You're In" program, gives Fort Larned a guaranteed place in this November's Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

Fort Larned recorded his fourth win in seven starts this year and seventh victory in 17 career races. The Whitney win was worth $450,000 to bring the colt's total earnings to $881,236.

The four-year-old won the Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows on June 30 after finishing eighth in the Stephen Foster two weeks earlier at Churchill Downs. After winning the Skip Away Stakes on March 31 at Gulfstream he was second in the Alysheba on May 4 at Churchill.

"He really stepped it up. The blinkers really helped him," Wilkes said.

Fort Larned paid $16.40, $7.00 and $4.30. Ron the Greek returned $3.90 and $2.90, and Flat Out paid $3.40 to show.

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