Janis Whitham’s homebred Fort Larned made his 1 3/16-mile trip at Gulfstream Park March 31 a quick one. He set a track record of 1:53.92 for the distance while cruising to victory in the $100,000 Skip Away Stakes (gr. III) in South Florida (VIDEO). The previous mark of 1:54.74 had been established by Eddington in 2005.
Ridden by Julien Leparoux, 12-1 shot Fort Larned stalked the pace set by Uptowncharlybrown before charging to the lead in the far turn. He was in front by 2 1/2 lengths at the wire.
Alma d'Oro finished second, 12 1/2 lengths in front of Self Control. It was another 3 3/4 lengths back to the fourth-place finisher, favored Where's Sterling. Uptowncharlybrown faded to last in the nine-horse field after posting early fractions of :23.93 and :47.25.
A 4-year-old son of E Dubai, Fort Larned notched his first graded win in the Skip Away, which was contested over a track that was rated fast. The bay colt came into the race off of a 1 1/4-length victory in the March 3 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. In his 2012 debut in February, he had finished fourth in a 1 1/16-mile handicap event at Tampa Bay.
Ian Wilkes trains Kentucky-bred Fort Larned, who has captured five of his 13 career races and finished second once while earning $181,331. The Kentucky-bred colt is out of the winning Broad Brush mare Arlucea. His second dam, Bayakoa, won Eclipse Awards as the champion older female in 1989 and 1990 while racing for Whitham and her late husband, Frank.
“The horse has really improved," Wilkes said. "He’s four and he’s just maturing. He’s getting better and better and Mrs. Whitman…I’m so happy for her. He ran good. They don’t run too many at a 1 3/16 miles. We’ll take it.”
Fort Larned paid $26.20, $10.20, and $6.60. Alma d'Oro returned $5.20 and $3.40, and Self Control paid $3.20.