Fort Larned favored in $750K Whitney at Saratoga

BY foxsports • August 2, 2013

Fort Larned will be a clear favorite when he faces seven opponents in Saturday's $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.

The 5-year-old winner of the 2012 Breeders' Cup Classic will be trying to win consecutive runnings of the 1 1/8-mile Whitney and comes off an impressive victory in the June 15 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. Only Discovery, who won this race three times from 1934 to 1936, has won consecutive runnings of the Whitney.

''He's coming into the race great. To win back-to-back Whitneys would be quite an accomplishment,'' said Ian Wilkes, who trains Fort Larned for owner Janis R. Whitham. ''To stay in good form and be able to have a chance to do that says something about the horse.''

Brian Hernandez Jr. will ride Fort Larned, who will carry high weight, 122 pounds. He faces an accomplished group that includes Ron the Greek, runner-up in the 2012 Whitney. Also in the field is Alpha, who finished last year's Travers Stakes in a dead heat with Golden Ticket, and multiple stakes-winners Mucho Macho Man and Successful Dan.

The late developing and lightly raced Cross Traffic, second choice to 7-5 Fort Larned on the morning line, was most recently a narrowly beaten runner-up in the prestigious Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park and poses a clear threat to the favorite.

''I'm happy that we drew outside Fort Larned as I anticipate the two of us will be significant pace factors in the race,'' said Todd Pletcher, Cross Traffic's trainer. He named John Velazquez to ride the 4-year-old.