Janis Whitham's 2012 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Fort Larned was assigned post 3 and installed as the 7-5 morning-line favorite during the draw for the $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap (gr. I) to be run Aug. 3 at Saratoga Race Course.
The Whitney will be shown live on a one-hour telecast on NBC Sports from 5-6 p.m. ET.
Fort Larned, who upset last year's edition with a powerful stretch run at odds of 7-1, will take on seven others in the 1 1/8-mile event while carrying top weight of 122 pounds, including regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr.
Since its inaugural running in 1928, only three horses have managed to win the Whitney mutliple times. Commentator took the 2005-2008 editions, Kelso won in 1961, '63, and '65, and Discovery was the winner three seasons in a row, from 1934-36.
But Fort Larned, a 5-year-old homebred son of E Dubai, comes off a sparkling 6 1/4-length wire-to-wire victory in near-record time in the June 15 Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, and seems a formidable foe from the barn of trainer Ian Wilkes.
"He's tactical; he can sit behind (if needed)," Wilkes remarked following the July 31 draw. "Don't forget Mucho Macho Man is a fast horse, as well. All three speed horses drew on the inside here. It'll be up to Brian. He can sit; that's not a problem. It's just important to get out of the gates and have a good, clean break. That's probably the key to it all."
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing's Mucho Macho Man, second by a half-length to Fort Larned in the Classic, drew post 2 and carries a 119-pound impost with Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado to ride. The 5-year-old Macho Uno horse was third in the June 14 Criminal Type Stakes at Belmont Park last time out, just his second start of the season after a layup following a dismal seventh in the slop in the Jan. 19 Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
"This year, we had a slow start," Ritvo said. "We ran into a track that was not to his liking. Then he came up with a virus. We restarted everything because he's such a good horse. He came back and had a really good race in the Criminal Type at Belmont. It was similar to his race in the Alysheba (gr. II) last year before he won the Suburban (gr. II). It was a good race, and it turned out to be a tough race. We were proud of his effort. I think it has set him up perfectly. I think he is doing as good as he did coming into the Woodward last year. He likes the track up here. He hasn't missed a work. It's a tough field, but he belongs here."
Successful Dan, fourth in the Stephen Foster for owner/breeder Morton Fink and trainer Charlie LoPresti, 2012 Travers (gr. I) dead-heat winner Alpha , Csaba, and Fast Falcon complete the field.
The Whitney is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event for the Classic, which will be run Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.
$750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap (gr. I, approximate post time 5:45 p.m. EDT), 3YOs & Up, 1 1/8 miles (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Successful Dan, J. Leparoux, 118, C LoPresti, 12-1
2. Mucho Macho Man, E. Prado, 119, K Ritvo, 6-1
3. Fort Larned, B.J. Hernandez, 122, I Wilkes, 7-5
4. Cross Traffic, J.R. Velazquez, 117, T A Pletcher, 5-2
5. Ron the Greek, J. Lezcano, 118, W I Mott, 6-1
6. Alpha, J. Rosario, 115, K P McLaughlin, 10-1
7. Csaba, L. Saez, 114, P Gleaves, 20-1
8. Fast Falcon, J. Alvarado, 114, N P Zito, 15-1