Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Downs grad Fort Larned wins Breeders' Cup Classic

Fort Larned, with Brian Hernandez atop, crosses the finish line ahead of Mucho Macho Man with Mike Smith to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park. Fort Larned won this year’s $60,000 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Associated Press

Fort Larned, with Brian Hernandez atop, crosses the finish line ahead of Mucho Macho Man with Mike Smith to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park. Fort Larned won this year’s $60,000 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

ARCADIA, Calif. — Fort Larned, a 9-1 long shot, led all the way to win the $5 million Classic by a half-length Saturday, capping a weekend of upsets at the Breeders' Cup.

Brian Hernandez, aboard the winner, celebrated his 27th birthday with the biggest victory of his career. Game On Dude, the 7-5 favorite who was beaten in the closing strides in the race a year ago, was seventh in the field of 12.

"Fort Larned just gave us the greatest birthday present ever," said Hernandez, who rides mostly in racing's minor leagues at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., and Kentucky Downs in Franklin. He was the leading rider at both tracks this year.

Fort Larned, who won the $60,000 Challenger Stakes this year at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, ran 1¼ miles in 2:00.11 in the showcase race of the two-day world championships at Santa Anita Park. Just four favorites won in the event's 15 races.

Fort Larned, a 4-year-old colt, paid $20.80 to win. Trainer Ian Wilkes had never won such a big race. "I knew we were good when he broke sharp," Wilkes said. "That's where Brian won the race. We broke sharp, and Game On Dude broke bad."

Game On Dude's trainer, Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, has won many big races but never the Classic, and he lost with Game On Dude for the second straight year. Game On Dude ran "probably the worst race of his life," Baffert said.

"It was a tough day for me, but I've had tougher," said Baffert, who went 0-for-9 on the weekend to end a year in which he also had a heart attack in March and finished second in each Triple Crown race. "(Baseball great) Joe Torre told me that you've got to forget it."

Mucho Macho Man was second, and Flat Out was third.

Flat Out is trained by Bill Mott, who was trying to duplicate his 2011 feat of winning the Ladies' Classic and the Classic (with Drosselmeyer).

Mott got the first half of the double, winning the Ladies' Classic on Friday, again with Tampa Bay Downs graduate Royal Delta. He had three horses in the Classic; the others were Ron the Greek, who finished fourth, and To Honor and Serve, 10th. "I don't think we have any huge excuse," he said.

The Classic spotlight belonged to Fort Larned, an unheralded horse named for an old post in Kansas that protected the Santa Fe Trail, a jockey who rides in racing's minor leagues, and a low-profile trainer.

"The prestige of winning this race in front of the world is unbelievable," said Hernandez, who won the Eclipse Award for top apprentice jockey in 2004 after graduating high school and was aboard Rachel Alexandra for several of her early races.

He rebounded this year after injuring a shoulder at Ellis Park last summer. He spent some of his recovery time cleaning stalls.

Upsets dominated six of Saturday's nine races, with Little Mike pulling off the biggest, winning the $3 million Turf at 17-1 odds.

Rosie Napravnik joined Julie Krone as the only female jockeys to win a Cup race when she guided 6-5 favorite Shanghai Bobby to a head victory over He's Had Enough in the $2 million Juvenile.

Fort Larned capped a big weekend for Tampa Bay Downs connections at the Cup. It was the second consecutive year Downs graduates won the Ladies' Classic and the Classic. Two Downs horsemen recorded their first Cup victories Saturday: Jockey Willie Martinez rode 13-1 shot Trinniberg to a victory in the Sprint, and trainer William Bradley won the Filly and Mare Sprint with favorite Groupie Doll. On Friday, Downs graduate Zagora captured the Filly and Mare Turf.

Times correspondent Don Jensen contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Downs grad Fort Larned wins Breeders' Cup Classic 11/03/12 [Last modified: Sunday, November 4, 2012 12:04am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too lengthy. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes …

    Associated Press
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    You wonder if the scouting reports and/or workload are catching up to rookie RHP Jake Faria. The bottom line wasn't bad again, three runs in 51/3 innings, but he's having to work harder to get there.

  3. Rays journal: Chris Archer eager for eventful final stretch

    The Heater

    TORONTO — RHP Chris Archer takes the mound today for the Rays as they head into the final 40 games of the season with little margin for error as they battle for an American League playoff spot.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) takes a moment on the mound in the second inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 6, 2017.
  4. Tim Tebow's slump continues, as does fan support

    Sports

    CLEARWATER — On July 29, playing against the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Tim Tebow smacked a mammoth three-run homer, helping the St. Lucie Mets cruise to a 10-3 victory at Charlotte Sports Park.

    St. Lucie’s Tim Tebow, shown Monday at Spectrum Field, struggled at the plate Wednesday against the Threshers.
  5. Rays at Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m. Thursday

    The Heater

    Today: at Blue Jays

    4:07, Rogers Centre, Toronto

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Chris Archer (8-7, 3.84)

    JAYS: RH Chris Rowley (1-0, 1.69)