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Fort Larned favored in Whitney at Saratoga

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) - Fort Larned will be a clear favorite when he faces seven opponents in Saturday's $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.

The 5-year-old winner of the 2012 Breeders' Cup Classic will be trying to win consecutive runnings of the 1 1/8-mile Whitney and comes off an impressive victory in the June 15 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. Only Discovery, who won this race three times from 1934 to 1936, has won consecutive runnings of the Whitney.

``He's coming into the race great. To win back-to-back Whitneys would be quite an accomplishment,'' said Ian Wilkes, who trains Fort Larned for owner Janis R. Whitham. ``To stay in good form and be able to have a chance to do that says something about the horse.''

Brian Hernandez Jr. will ride Fort Larned, who will carry high weight, 122 pounds. He faces an accomplished group that includes Ron the Greek, runner-up in the 2012 Whitney. Also in the field is Alpha, who finished last year's Travers Stakes in a dead heat with Golden Ticket, and multiple stakes-winners Mucho Macho Man and Successful Dan.

The late developing and lightly raced Cross Traffic, second choice to 7-5 Fort Larned on the morning line, was most recently a narrowly beaten runner-up in the prestigious Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park and poses a clear threat to the favorite.

``I'm happy that we drew outside Fort Larned as I anticipate the two of us will be significant pace factors in the race,'' said Todd Pletcher, Cross Traffic's trainer. He named John Velazquez to ride the 4-year-old.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2015
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

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Mike Dempsey Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders' Cup.
The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes.

Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.

Mike also had past success in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively.

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Jerry Sessa Jerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins.
In the 2015 Belmont Stakes Jerry dominated races 8-11 by hitting a $4,400 Pick 4, 3 Daily Doubles, 2 Pick 3's and calling American Pharoah as the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years.

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