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Fort Larned winning 2012 Whitney. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)

Suele decirse cuando alguien está en una situación complicada,  que requiere del mejor de los esfuerzos: "está en aguas profundas"...

Y es la expresión que usó el trainer de Fort Larned para referirse a la carrera que tendrá su pupilo este sábado en el "Whitney".

Añádase como condimento especial, el hecho de que van ya 77 años sin que un ejemplar consigue ganar este clásico en ediciones consecutivas, desde que Discovery lo lograra por triple mérito desde 1934 a 1936.

Pasan muchas cosas en un año, es casi improbable que un año sea idéntico a otro, en sus éxitos y fracasos. Sin embargo, es lo que se le pide a un atleta de élite como es el caso de Fort Larned.

De linaje de campeones por ser nieto de la extraordinaria yegua argentina Bayakoa, dos veces ganadora del Breeder's Cup Distaff, Fort Larned subió la exclusiva cuesta de los escogidos, al imponerse hace un año en el "Whitney" con una táctica acertada, viniendo de menos a más, como correspondía dada la ubicación que le tocó en suerte en el partidor. Esa vez salió de cajón 9, el más alejado de la baranda de todo el grupo.

Inesperadamente, y aprovechando esta vez su cercanía al riel, Fort Larned fue a buscar la punta en la lujosa edición de la "Classic" a fines de año pasado. No fueron cómodos los primeros 400 metros, teniendo a dos y hasta 3 rivales alineados con él por el comando. Pero parece que eso le agradó, pues tomó un tranco más resuelto y se pudo distanciar algo en los postes siguientes. Sus rivales decidieron esperar y aguardar por un cansancio terminal, que pareció venir en la recta cuando Mucho Macho Man lo emparejó y quiso averiguar cuánto había de resto en él.

Fue ahí cuando pareció sonar la milonga y el tango en Santa Anita. Fue ahí cuando la sangre generosa y guapa de Bayakoa volvió a respirar en la arena de Santa Anita. El poste final enseñó lo que todo campeón sabe exhibir. Final tenaz y aguerrido de puntero, cabeza al frente imbatible y altiva.

Pero Fort Larned no es un caballo virtual de PlayStation, es un pura sangre de carne y hueso, y la vida le tenía reservada una sorpresa. Ya con 5 años a cuestas, al darse la partida en Marzo del Gulfstream Park Handicap, se fue de manos en el segundo salto desmontando a su jinete. El propio caballo estuvo a punto que romperse el cuello en aquella acción. Ya sin jinete recorrió la distancia hecho una exhalación de músculos y nervios.

¿Qué pudo pasar por su cabeza en esos momentos? Sentirse sin piloto lo llevó hacia una aceleración pocas veces vista en una pista de carreras. Su siguiente actuación fue anodina, descolorida, y se vio deambular por la pista a un ejemplar envuelto en un mar de dudas. 

Felizmente el trauma parece haber sido superado. El galope en el "Stephen Foster" así lo prueba. Triunfo demoledor que anuncia la vuelta, ya madura, de un caballo listo para las marquesinas más brillantes. 

Por ahora aguas profundas....es "el caballo a ganar". Son siete rivales contra él. Es el más destacado de todos y tal vez el más temido. ¿Alguien se atreverá a darle batalla a su velocidad de rayo?

Si emerge victorioso del "Whitney" sería ya un histórico, por el hecho de repetirlo en años seguidos quebrando un largo lapso de 77 calendarios, y luego vendría la cúspide más alta: repetir el "Classic", con lo cual se encaminaría ya a ser leyenda. 

FORT LARNED WINNING 2012 BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC

Inside Fort Larne -Eclipse

Photo by Eclipse Sportswire

red white blue Bar

English Translation: Perhaps a Historical One, Maybe a Legend ...

It is said when someone is in a complicated situation that requires the best efforts that they are " in deep water."

And that´s the expression used by the trainer of Fort Larned when referring to his pupil entered this Saturday in the Whitney.

Added as a special seasoning is the fact that it has already been 77 years without a horse winning the Whitney in consecutive editions, since Discovery achieved it by triple merit from 1934-1936.

A lot happens in a year. It is most unlikely that a year is identical to another, their successes and failures. However, it is what is asked of an elite athlete, such as Fort Larned.

From a lineage of champions - being a grandson of the extraordinary Argentine mare Bayakoa, twice winner of the Breeders' Cup Distaff - Fort Larned climbed the exclusive slope of the elect, after winning the Whitney a year ago with a successful tactic, tracking a quick pace and ranging up, as it corresponded given the starting gate position awarded at the draw. This time around Fort Larned will be coming out of post position nine, the farthest away from the rail of the whole group.

Taking advantage, somewhat unexpectedly, of his proximity to the rail, Fort Larned went for the lead in the prestigious Breeders´Cup Classic late last year. The first quarter-mile was not comfortable, having two and even three opponents lined up with him for early command. But it seems that pleased him, as he took a more determined stride and was able to distance himself in the coming poles. His rivals decided to wait and wait for a terminal exhaustion, and that seemed to come in the stretch when Mucho Macho Man matched strides with him and wanted to find out how much resistance he had left.

It was then that the sounds of the River Plate milonga and tango seemed to ring at Santa Anita. That's when the generous blood of the classy Bayakoa started breathing again on the main track at Santa Anita. The last pole showed what is found in every champion when he finished tenaciously, a fighting leader, a head in front and haughty.

FORT LARNED, JOCKEY BRIAN HERNANDEZ AFTER WINNING 2012 BREEDERS' CUP

Fort Larned -BCCelebrate -Inside -Eclipse

Photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Fort Larned is not a PlayStation virtual horse, but a Thoroughbred of the flesh and blood, and the life had reserved him a surprise. Already with five years on his shoulders, at the start of the Gulfstream Park Handicap in March, he stumbled badly on the second jump, unseating his rider. The horse itself escaped injury after the frightening stumble. He covered the distance riderless, converted in an exhalation of muscles and nerves. What could go through your head at that time? Feeling pilotless took him to an acceleration rarely seen on a racetrack.

His next performance was a dull fifth-place finish in the Oaklawn Handicap, and he seemed like a horse wandering around the track wrapped in a sea of doubt.

Happily, the trauma seems to have been overcome. His dominating win in the Stephen Foster Handicap proved it - a demolishing triumph that announced his return and showed the maturity of a horse ready for brighter shelters.

For now deep waters is "the horse to beat." There are seven rivals against him. He is the most prominent of all and perhaps the most feared. Does anyone dare to give battle to the speed of lightning?

If he emerges victorious from the Whitney it would already be historic, for having repeated in consecutive years breaking a long span of 77 calendars, and then would come the highest peak: a potential repeat in the Breeders' Cup Classic, with which he would be headed toward becoming a legend.

$750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap

Saturday, Saratoga Race Course, Race 10, post time 5:45 p.m. EDT

3-year-olds and older, 1 1/8 miles (dirt)

PP

Horse

Jockey

Weight

Trainer

Odds

1

Successful Dan

Julien Leparoux

118

Charles LoPresti

12-1

2

Mucho Macho Man

Edgar Prado

119

Kathy Ritvo

6-1

3

Fort Larned

Brian Hernandez

122

Ian Wilkes

7-5

4

Cross Traffic

John Velazquez

117

Todd Pletcher

5-2

5

Ron the Greek

Jose Lezcano

118

Bill Mott

6-1

6

Alpha

Joel Rosario

115

Kiaran McLaughlin

10-1

7

Csaba

Luis Saez

114

Philip Gleaves

20-1

8

Fast Falcon

Junior Alvarado

114

Nick Zito

15-1

Image Description

Michael Burns

Michael Burns is a recognized international Thoroughbred writer, permanent contributor of prestigious industry trades, such as Blood-Horse, Racing Post and Thoroughbred Daily News, and served as the hispanic media publicist for Betfair Hollywood Park.

He covered South American racing and breeding for the Thoroughbred Times for a span of 10 years and worked as a North American correspondent for racing publications in South America.

A Communications graduate of California State University of Los Angeles, he wrote the essays corresponding to the prominent South American sires Embrujo, Practicante and Cipayo for the collection book "Great Thoroughbred Sires of the World."

En Espanol: Michael Burns, es un reconocido periodista hípico internacional, permanente colaborador de prestigiosas revistas especializadas de la industria, tales como Blood Horse, Racing Post y Thoroughbred Daily News, y detenta actualmente el cargo de Hispanic Media Publicist en Betfair Hollywood Park.

Image Description

Michael Burns

Michael Burns is a recognized international Thoroughbred writer, permanent contributor of prestigious industry trades, such as Blood-Horse, Racing Post and Thoroughbred Daily News, and served as the hispanic media publicist for Betfair Hollywood Park.

He covered South American racing and breeding for the Thoroughbred Times for a span of 10 years and worked as a North American correspondent for racing publications in South America.

A Communications graduate of California State University of Los Angeles, he wrote the essays corresponding to the prominent South American sires Embrujo, Practicante and Cipayo for the collection book "Great Thoroughbred Sires of the World."

En Espanol: Michael Burns, es un reconocido periodista hípico internacional, permanente colaborador de prestigiosas revistas especializadas de la industria, tales como Blood Horse, Racing Post y Thoroughbred Daily News, y detenta actualmente el cargo de Hispanic Media Publicist en Betfair Hollywood Park.

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