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

Fort Larned (far side): held on to beat Mucho Macho Man at Breeders' Cup

  PICTURE: Edward Whtaker (  

Baffert takes Arkansas route with War Academy

Preview: USA, Saturday 11.28pm BST

Oaklawn Park: Arkansas Derby (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo

WAR ACADEMY (Bob Baffert/Mike Smith) bids to gatecrash the Kentucky Derby as he jumps up into Grade 1 company in the Arkansas Derby, $1 million highlight of a lucrative card at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.

His trainer Bob Baffert won the race 12 months ago with subsequent Churchill Downs runner-up Bodemeister, while horses like Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex and Curlin have all gone on to Classic success in the last ten years.

War Academy, a son of Giant's Causeway representing the Coolmore combine, breaks from gate two in a ten-runner field as he bids to follow up a fluent success in a minor race at Santa Anita nearly a month ago.

The 'old firm' of jockey Gary Stevens and trainer D Wayne Lukas, who won in Kentucky with Winning Colors and Thunder Gulch, team up with Rebel Stakes runner-up Oxbow.

He has drawn the outside gate in a hot race also featuring War Academy's Baffert-trained stablemate Dan's Legacy (Robby Albarado) and Remsen Stakes winner Overanalyze (Todd Pletcher/Rafael Bejarano), who faded in last month's Gotham Stakes.

Falling Sky (John Terranova/Martin Garcia) represents the Verrazano form, having finished third behind the Kentucky Derby favourite at Tampa Bay last time.

Arkansas Derby

Ladbrokes: 2 War Academy, 11-4 Oxbow, 5 Overanalyze, 7 Den's Legacy, 8 Falling Sky, 16 Frac Daddy, 25 Texas Bling, 33 Carve, 50 Heaven's Runway

Also on Saturday

Oaklawn Park: Oaklawn Hcap (Grade 2) 1m1f, dirt, 4yo+ (10.14pm BST)

Breeders' Cup Classic winner Fort Larned (Ian Wilkes/Brian Hernandez) has a couple of crosses to bear in this $500,000 contest.

Although the five-year-old towers over his rivals in form terms, in effect this is his seasonal debut after he stumbled at the gate and unseated his rider last month at Gulfstream.

He is also drawn nine of ten, and must concede at least 6lb to opponents headed by last year's winner Alternation (Donnie von Hemel/Luis Quinonez), who loves this venue, having recorded a hat-trick here in 2012.



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