Cornhusker and Whitney Handicap winner Fort Larned completed his final work for Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic by breezing five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.40 seconds on a fast track at Churchill Downs on Sunday.
Working in company with Indiana Derby winner Neck ‘n Neck, Fort Larned started approximately five lengths behind his workmate, and the pair finished together through the lane, trainer Ian Wilkes said.
“Everything went to plan,” Wilkes said. “He did it very easily and galloped out nicely.”
Fort Larned’s workout was the fastest of 65 works at the five-furlong distance on a busy morning at Churchill Downs, which followed a day in which the Churchill Downs main track had been muddy.
Churchill Downs clockers timed Neck ‘n Neck in 1:01.60, a little more than a second slower than that Fort Larned’s bullet workout.
Third most recently in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, Fort Larned is scheduled to fly from Kentucky to California on Tuesday. Wilkes speculated that flight could be delayed until Wednesday - a result of weather-related flight delays from Hurricane Sandy making landfall in the Northeast.
Brian Hernandez, aboard for Fort Larned’s last three races, including the Whitney, retains the mount in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Although Wilkes and owner Janis Whitham could have opted for any number of higher-profile riders for their horse in the Classic, they feel comfortable in their decision.
“He’s done nothing wrong,” Wilkes said. “You couldn’t ask for a better ride, from the Cornhusker to the Whitney to the Jockey Club.”