Cross Traffic landing his first Grade 1 success in the WhitneyPICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos
Fort Larned fades behind Cross Traffic in Whitney
Report: USA, Saturday
Saratoga: Whitney Invitational (Grade 1 hcap) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo+
BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC winner Fort Larned could manage only fifth behind the progressive Cross Traffic (Todd Pletcher/John Velazaquez) in Saturday's Grade 1 Whitney Invitational at Saratoga.
The Ian Wilkes-trained Fort Larned faced a tough field, including Mucho Macho Man and Ron The Greek, whom he beat into second and fourth in the Classic at Santa Anita in November.
He conceded weight all round and after challenging two out kept on at one pace in the final furlong behind Cross Traffic, making up for an unlucky defeat in the Grade 1 Met Mile last time.
Successful Dan claimed second with Mucho Macho Man and Ron The Greek in third and fourth.
Cross Traffic's Met Mile reverse where he ran on gamely only to be mugged by Sahara Sky was described by Pletcher as one of the "toughest beats" he has been involved with.
However, he can now start to dream about bigger and better things with the son of Unbridled's Song who earns an automatic place in the Breeders' Cup Classic courtesy of the 'win and you're in' initiative.
A return to Saratoga for the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes on August 31 is next on the agenda for Gold Mark Farm's four-year-old when he could face Successful Dan again.
Plans are on hold for Fort Larned though. "It was a dull effort today," Wilkes said. "Let's find out why. We'll regroup. We'll be back."
Also on Saturday
Mountaineer: West Virginia Derby (Grade 2) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo
Departing (Al Stall/Robby Albarado) bounced back from his sixth in the Preakness to claim the West Virginia Derby in impressive fashion.
He had eight and a quarter lengths to spare over Ruler Of Love with Overanalyze back in third.
"You've got to love when a plan comes together like this one," said Stall. "It doesn't always happen like this, so it's nice."
Del Mar: Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (Grade 1) 1m½f, AW, 3yo+ f/m
Lady Of Fifty (Jerry Hollendorfer/Corey Nakatani) secured her first top-level triumph when landing the Clement L. Hirsch in which evens favourite Include Me Out was a disappointing eighth of nine.