Fort Larned, left alone on an easy pace, turned back heavy favorite Successful Dan in the lane to post an easy three-length triumph in the $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (gr. III) in Iowa on the night of June 30 (VIDEO) .
Brian Hernandez Jr. guided Janis Whitham's homebred 4-year-old son of E Dubai to victory for trainer Ian Wilkes. Fort Larned, second choice in a field of six at odds of 7-2, covered the 1 1/8-mile distance in a solid 1:47.42 on a fast track.
The victory provided a level of revenge for Fort Larned, who was overtaken by Successful Dan in the Alysheba Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs May 4 and finished second.
Fort Larned, who is out of the Broad Brush mare Arlucea, was coming off a troubled effort in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill. He was carried wide in that June 16 effort after pressing the pace and faded to finish last of eight.
In the Cornhusker, Fort Larned broke with Shadowbdancing but was hustled to the lead by Hernandez, who slowed the pace while maintaining a comfortable advantage over Shadowbdancing, Awesome Gem, and Successful Dan, the 1-2 favorite. Fractions were :24.57, :48.43, and 1:12.22.
Successful Dan, the 122-pound high weight, made his bid in the homestretch as expected but Fort Larned had plenty left when asked to respond by Hernandez, winning as much the best.
Successful Dan, ridden by Julien Leparoux, finished 2 3/4 lengths in front of Awesome Gem and David Flores. Shadowbdancing was out of the money for just the second time in 12 races at Prairie Meadows after finishing a head behind Awesome Gem. Taptowne was fifth while defending Cornhusker champion Headache showed little interest after a slow start and trailed all the way.
The victory, worth $180,000 increased Fort Larned's career earnings to $431,236. The bay colt has a career record of 6-2-0 in 16 races.
Fort Larned carried 117 pounds and paid $9.40, $3.40, $2.40. Successful Dan, losing for just the second time in his past six starts, returned $2.20 and $2.20 and capped a $16.40 exacta. Southern California shipper Awesome Gem, second in last year's Cornhusker, paid $2.80.