Fort Larned wins 2012 Breeders' Cup, stuns Baffert-trained Game On Dude

November 4, 2012

Santa Anita, California -- This weekend proved that home field advantage doesn’t mean much in horse racing. Such was the harsh lesson learned Saturday night by Bob Baffert's Game on Dude, who despite being 5-0 at Santa Anita, failed to finish in the money at Saturday’s 5 million dollar Breeders' Cup.

Game On Dude was supposed to be a super horse whose lousy finishes were to be explained away by the fact that those losses came in Del Mar and Dubai. However, it was Fort Larned who fortified his claim to horse racing history with his 9-1 upset victory. The horse is named for an obscure fortification in Kansas that protected the Santa Fe Trail back before horse racing became a largely spectator sport.

Fort Larned blazed his own trail to an early lead and never looked back, as he battled Mucho Macho Man down the stretch for a classic finish to the 2012 Breeders' Cup.

A roar went through the crowd as Fort Larned, ridden by Brian Hernandez, approached the stands following his win. The fans could have easily sang "Happy Birthday," as Hernandez turned 27 on race day. Fort Larned’s previous claim to fame was winning the Whitney at Saratoga in August.

Meanwhile, the loss was the final defeat in a horrible outing for Bob Baffert, for whom Santa Anita is a home base. Somehow Baffert managed an 0-for-9 showing with his entrants during the two-day event.

Game On Dude, according to Baffert, ran “the worst” race of his life, a disputable point given that Game On Dude finished a disappointing 12th in the 10 million dollar Dubai World Cup earlier this year.

The thrilling Breeders' Cup Classic finish in front of over 50,000 fans and the high-stakes means that some of these horses could be back next year, including third-place Flat Out, fourth-place Ron the Greek, and yes, Game On Dude.

Baffert has never won the Breeders' Cup Classic, but may find some comfort in the song performed by the 86-year-old Tony Bennett as the horses entered the track before the day’s last race. Hopefully, for Baffert, “The Best is Yet to Come,” as Tony crooned.

By Joe Hammond
Contributing Writer for The Daily Sports Herald

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