Trainer Ian Wilkes sent 2012 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Fort Larned
through a five-furlong breeze in :59 4/5 May 24 at Churchill Downs
, continuing to prepare the big bay runner for a start in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I).
Under Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel, Fort Larned ran splits of :12 4/5, :25, and :37 1/5. Churchill clockers caught him galloping out six furlongs in 1:11 4/5, seven furlongs in 1:24 2/5, and a mile in 1:38 3/5. It was the third fastest work of 21 at the distance on the day.
"He worked well and everything looks good," Wilkes said of Janis Whitham's homebred son of E Dubai. "He's acting good; he's like normal."
Fort Larned, who upset the Breeders' Cup Classic at 9-1 and who also won the 2012 Whitney Invitational Handicap (gr. I), got the year off to an eventful start when he stumbled leaving the gate and dropped jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. in the March 9 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II).
"We had a couple hiccups earlier this year and now we are looking to restart our year and point everything to the Breeders' Cup," Wilkes said.
Hernandez gets the mount in the 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster June 15, according to the trainer.
"Calvin did me a favor and worked him this morning, but Brian won't be taking off...he'll have the mount," Wilkes said.
Wilkes held off from starting Fort Larned in the May 3 Alysheba Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill, won by Take Charge Indy, after the 5-year-old finished fifth as the 1-2 favorite in the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park
"It's just the way it worked out," the trainer said. "He just wasn't quite himself for the Alysheba and I just had to wait on him. He's good now."