Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Updated: August 1, 5:30 PM ET
Fort Larned eyes Whitney repeat
By Claire Novak
Janis Whitham's 2012 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Fort Larned was assigned post 3 and installed as the 7-5 morning-line favorite during a July 31 draw for the $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap to be run Aug. 3 at Saratoga Race Course.
Fort Larned, who upset the Whitney for trainer Ian Wilkes last year at odds of 7-1, will take on seven others in the 1 ⅛-mile event while carrying top weight of 122 pounds, including regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. The 5-year-old homebred son of E Dubai comes off a sparkling 6 ¼-length victory in near-record time in the June 15 Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi at Churchill Downs.
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing's Mucho Macho Man, second by a half-length to Fort Larned in the Classic, drew post 2 and carries a 119-pound impost with Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado to ride. The 5-year-old Macho Uno horse was third in the June 14 Criminal Type Stakes at Belmont Park last time out, just his second start of the season after a layup following a dismal seventh in the Jan. 19 Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Goldmark Farm's lightly-raced Cross Traffic, runner-up a nose behind Sahara Sky in the May 27 Metropolitan Handicap, is the 5-2 second choice from the 4 hole under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. The 4-year-old son of Unbridled's Song has just four starts under his belt for trainer Todd Pletcher, all made in 2013, with two wins and two seconds, the latter in graded stakes. He carries 117.
Ron the Greek, second in the 2012 Whitney and third in the Stephen Foster last time out for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, returns to this race for Brous Stable, Wachtel Stable, Jack Hammer, and Gary Barber. The Florida-bred Full Mandate 6-year-old has just one victory this year, an 11 ¼-length romp over a sloppy track in the Sunshine Millions Classic. In other starts of the season he was fourth in the Santa Anita Handicap -- a race he won last year -- and third in the Charles Town Classic. He finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic in his last start of 2012.
Successful Dan, fourth in the Stephen Foster for owner/breeder Morton Fink and trainer Charlie LoPresti, 2012 Travers dead-heat winner Alpha, Csaba, and Fast Falcon complete the field.
The Whitney is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event for the Classic, which will be run Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.