Whitney Invitational Handicap (gr. I) winner Fort Larned turned in his final serious work Sept. 23 for the upcoming $1 million TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational (gr. I) at Belmont Park, covering five furlongs in 1:01.04 over the main track.
Exercise rider Kate Merritt was aboard for the move, the fourth-fastest of 11 at the distance.
"He did exactly what we wanted him to do, and went very well," said Peggy Dunleavy, assistant to trainer Ian Wilkes, who conditions the colt for breeder/owner Janis R. Whitham. "He was very professional, and did it the right way."
The 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup is the headline event on the Super Saturday program at Belmont Sept. 29.
Four-year-old Fort Larned (E Dubai--Arlucea, by Broad Brush) heads into the race having put together impressive back-to-back victories. He won the Aug. 4 Whitney at Saratoga Race Course, for which he earned a career best 110 Beyer speed figure, and the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (gr. III) June 30, when he was credited with a 108 Beyer.
Maintaining that form, said Dunleavy, has been a primary focus.
"Keeping him happy is the key," she said. "It’s an easy ship from Saratoga to here, and we’re keeping the same basic routine. He likes this track, to be quite honest. He’s a pretty easy horse to be around."
Fort Larned sports a career record of 7-2-0 from 17 starts and earnings of $881,236.
Wilkes departed for Kentucky on Sunday morning and will return Thursday, said Dunleavy.