E DUBAI’s FORT LARNED in a Grade 1 gallop!

YouTubePhotos StephenBack to the form that garnered multiple Grade 1 wins in 2012, FORT LARNED shot to the front, ran the others off their feet and strolled home the easiest of winners in Churchill Downs’ Stephen Foster H.-G1 on the evening of Saturday, June 16. And he did it in near track record time!

Getting his first win since his incredible score in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1 at Santa Anita, Janis R. Whitham’s homebred was dismissed in the field of six sent out for the $500,000 Stephen Foster, going off as the 3.30-1 fourth choice. But when the gates sprung, he proved all doubters wrong as he immediately opened up by daylight, posted fractions of :23.69, :46.96, 1:10.48 and 1:34.53 while never being threatened, and cruised in six and a quarter lengths on top in a final time of 1:47.45, just .17 seconds off the track record for the mile and an eighth set by classic-winning champion Victory Gallop in 1999. Last year’s Travers S.-G1 deadheat winner Golden Ticket was second, with 2012 Stephen Foster winner Ron the Greek another four lengths back in third.

“He ran unbelievable,” said trainer Ian Wilkes. “It was gratifying to get the horse back and to prove that he’s as good as I thought he was and show he wasn’t a one-year wonder.”

Regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. gave a recount of his trip: “We were going down the backside and were cooking right along and the poles were going by pretty fast, but he was always doing it well within himself so I wasn’t really worried about it. When we turned for home, I pulled the stick through and he switched leads like the Fort Larned of old.”

The 2013 season got off to a frustrating start, when FORT LARNED lost Hernandez after stumbling at the start in the Gulfstream Park H.-G2, and then finished a lackluster fifth as the odds-on favorite in the Oaklawn H.-G3. His third career Gr. 1 win is his sixth stakes victory, and the $329,181 winner’s share of the purse pushed his earnings to $4,031,417, which ranks him 65th all-time in North America. Additionally, the Foster was the year’s first Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Classic Division Challenge Race, and Fort Larned is entitled to an automatic entry into the Nov. 2 Grade 1 Classic at Santa Anita.

E DUBAI was North America’s leading sire outside of Kentucky in 2012, and has sired the earners of more than $33 million and 32 stakes winners. His 2013 runners also include graded stakes-placed 3-year-old Fordubai, second in the $750,000 Illinois Derby-G3, and New Zealand graded stakes mare Dubai Belle.