Fort Larned driving to victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic. (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)
By Blood-Horse Staff
Trainer Ian Wilkes plans to give Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Fort Larned a break after his taxing effort Nov. 3 and is hoping to return to Santa Anita Park next fall for the 30th World Championships in 2013 .
Wilkes made his comments the morning after the 4-year-old Fort Larned scored a front-running victory in the $5 million event.
"He is going to get a little break and then go to Gulfstream for the winter," Wilkes said. "I will talk it over with the Whitham family (Fort Larned's owners) and plan backward to get back here (next year).
"One race I would like to run in is the Stephen Foster. I really want to do better than he did this year (finishing last of eight)."
Wilkes said that Fort Larned, owned and bred by Janis Whitham, came out of the race well and was scheduled to leave Santa Anita Sunday morning to go to Ontario Airport for a flight back to Kentucky where the son of E Dubai is stabled at Churchill Downs.
Ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., Fort Larned grabbed the lead out of the gate and had to fend off Mucho Macho Man through the stretch to prevail by a half-length. It was another 6 1/2 lengths back to Flat Out in third.
"I didn’t sleep a lot last night,” Wilkes said after his first Breeders’ Cup victory. “It has not really sunk in yet."
Wilkes was asked his thoughts when Fort Larned was challenged by Mucho Macho Man entering the stretch.
"Stop riding, Mike," Wilkes said of Mike Smith who was aboard Mucho Macho Man. "You’ve already won the Ladies’ Classic. I was looking for the wire."
Meanwhile, Wise Dan, winner of the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) and now the favorite for Horse of the Year honors, was already home at Keeneland after setting a coutse record Saturday. He was back in his stall at Barn 62 at Keeneland, located across the road from Blue Grass Airport.
Amy Lopresti, wife of trainer Charles Lopresti, said, "He was eager to get off the van and be back home."
The trainer was due back on a later flight out of Los Angeles Sunday.
Plans for 5-year-old Wise Dan include spending the winter at the Lopresti farm where the gelding spent the winter the past two years before returning to the races the following April at Keeneland.
"He will probably get 45 to 60 days at the farm, but it is up to him," Amy Lopresti said of Wise Dan. "Charlie won’t get in a big hurry with him because the goal is to have the horse at his best toward the mid- to late-summer and the fall for the big races."