Flat Out, Fort Larned in Woodward Works
Photo: Coglianese Photos

Two contenders for the $750,000 Woodward Stakes (gr. I)Flat Out   and Fort Larned  went through their final paces in preparation for the 1 1/8-mile race at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 31.

With regular exercise rider Neil Poznansky aboard for trainer Bill Mott, Flat Out zipped four furlongs in :48.30 seconds over the Oklahoma training track, the best of 44 works at the distance.

The work came one day after Mott's other Woodward entrant, Ron the Greek, went four furlongs in 49.30 on the Oklahoma training track, second-best of 27 at the distance.

Flat Out has been idle since his 2 1/2-length victory in the Suburban Handicap (gr. II) July 6 at Belmont Park.

"We had the option (to run Flat Out in the Whitney)," Mott said. "He had won the Suburban, and we thought if he was doing really, really well going into the Whitney, we'd run. We worked him and thought he maybe wasn't on his game 100 percent. He has always had issues with his feet, and we thought we needed a little more time for one of his feet.

"With that being said, we pointed to the Woodward. We didn't want to skip them both. This work today was as good as Neil has felt him. He gets on him every day, and he seemed to think he was more on his game than he has been some of his previous works."

Also working Aug. 26 was Fort Larned, the fifth-place finisher as the favorite after a slow start in the Whitney.

With jockey Brian Hernandez flying in from Kentucky for the move, Fort Larned went out shortly after 6:30 a.m. and was clocked in 1:00.86 for five furlongs on the main track. Trainer Ian Wilkes caught the 5-year-old son of E Dubai   galloping out six furlongs in 1:12 3/5.

"It was a nice work, and I'm very pleased with it," said Wilkes. "The only thing I can control is my horse, and I'm happy with him."

Wilkes is taking a slightly different path than last year to Santa Anita for the defending Breeders' Cup Classic star. In 2012, Fort Larned won the Whitney and then used the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) Sept. 29 at Belmont Park-—his eighth start of the yearas his final prep for the 1 1/4-mile Classic.

This year, Fort Larned has run four times, with his lone victory coming in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) June 15 at Churchill Downs.

"Last year he was running all year," said Wilkes. "I feel this year he needs more racing. After this, we're definitely going to look at the Jockey Club Gold Cup (September 28)."

Meanwhile, trainer Todd Pletcher is "very strongly" considering the Woodward for the next start by Whitney winner Cross Traffic.

"There's a good chance he will be entered," said Pletcher, who is also taking a look at the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), at 1 1/4 miles Sept. 28 at Belmont Park, for the 4-year-old Unbridled's Song colt.

"(The decision will be based on) what I think gives us the best chance to win the Breeders' Cup Classic," he said. "There's a lot of variables. The horse is here, he's doing well, he won the Whitney over the racetrack. He also ran very well at Belmont. I'd say it's probably more likely that we run here than we won't."

In addition to those three, also under consideration for the Woodward are Successful Dan, Mucho Macho Man, Ron the Greek, Alpha, and Paynter  , according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes.

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