Reigning Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned stamped his ticket back to the big stage in this season’s first Breeders’ Cup Win & You’re In race when he took a field of six wire-to-wire in the Grade 1 $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. A crowd of 23,509 came out for the spring meet’s first Downs After Dark program to witness the 6 ¼ length victory by the Ian Wilkes runner. It was the first win for Fort Larned since his November Breeders’ Cup Classic win and two disappointing races earlier in the year.
“He ran unbelievable,” said 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.”
Jockey Brian Hernandez and Fort Larned were on the lead early setting sharp fractions of :23.69 for the first quarter mile and 46.96 for the half mile. His final time for the 1 1/8 mile race was 1:47.45, just missing the record of 1:47.28 set by Victory Gallop in 1999. Post-time favorite, Take Charge Indy, stayed with the winner through much of the race, along with second choice Successful Dan.