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Fort Larned hangs on to beat Much Macho Man in a thrilling Classic

Fort Larned: narrowly won Breeders' Cup Classic from Mucho Macho Man

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

Classic hero Fort Larned out to redeem himself

Preview: USA, Saturday (2.39am, Sunday BST)

Churchill Downs: Stephen Foster Hcap (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo+

BREEDERS' Cup Classic winner Fort Larned (Ian Wilkes/Brian Hernandez) is out to put his stuttering season back on track in the prestigious Stephen Foster Handicap under the floodlights at Churchill Downs on Saturday night.

The five-year-old stumbled at the start and unseated his rider on his seasonal debut at Gulfstream Park before a lacklustre fifth in the Oaklawn Handicap, where his trainer believes the horse did not handle the surface.

Rivals in a select field for the $500,000 contest include last year's winner Ron The Greek (Bill Mott/Jose Lezcano), without a win since the Sunshine Millions Classic in January, having made the frame in both the Santa Anita Handicap and Charles Town Classic.

In this race 12 months ago, Ron The Greek was the last horse to beat subsequent Horse of the Year Wise Dan, but he was beaten by Fort Larned in both the Whitney and the Classic.

Wise Dan's highly rated stable companion Successful Dan (Charlie LoPresti/Julien Leparoux) bids for an overdue Grade 1 success, having passed the post first before being disqualified at this venue in the Clark Handicap in 2010. He scored on his seasonal debut in lesser grade at Keeneland after missing the whole of last term owing to a suspensory injury.

Take Charge Indy (Patrick Byrne/Rosie Napravnik) also comes here on a roll after a six-length win over course and distance in the Grade 2 Alysheba, while Golden Ticket (Kenny McPeek/Joel Rosario) dead-heated for last year's Travers Stakes.

Ladbrokes Stephen Foster Handicap betting: 2 Successful Dan, 3 Take Charge Indy, 7-2 Ron the Greek, 4 Fort Larned, 16 Golden Ticket, 20 Pool Play

ALSO ON SATURDAY

Churchill Downs: Fleur de Lis Hcap (Grade 2) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo+ f/m (Sun 1.30am BST)

Dual Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic winner Royal Delta (Bill Mott/Mike Smith), twice champion filly in the States, gives away at least 10lb to four inferior rivals on her first start since another disappointment on the Tapeta in Dubai.

Hollywood Park: Vanity Hcap (Grade 1) 1m1f, AW, 3yo+ f/m (Sun 1am BST)

A race that gained notoriety thanks to a hat-trick by the great Zenyatta in 2008-10, the Vanity can't boast anything of that ilk this time around with none of the six runners having landed a previous Grade 1 score.

Last year's Nell Gwyn Stakes winner Esentape (Jerry Hollendorfer/Corey Nakatani) posted a nice victory in minor company here a month ago.

Byrama (Simon Callaghan/Gary Stevens), a winner for Nigel Tinkler at Carlisle as a two-year-old, gets back on a synthetic track after trying sloppy dirt in Grade 1 company at the Kentucky Derby meeting.

Open Water (Eric Guillot/Joe Talamo) bids to confirm placings with Lady Of Fifty (Jerry Hollendorfer/Rafael Bejarano), whom she beat in the Marjorie Everett Handicap last time out.

Top-weight is La Canada Stakes winner More Chocolate (John Sadler/Garrett Gomez).

 
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