Opposing a vulnerable favorite in the Fort Larned S.

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

August 10th, 2022

The inaugural running of Saturday’s $200,000 Fort Larned S. at Churchill Downs has drawn a competitive field of seven horses. After digging through the entries, it appears enticing payoffs could be in the offing.

The morning line favorite is #2 King Fury (2-1), and understandably so. The beautifully bred son of Curlin out of Taris won the Lexington S. (G3) as a three-year-old last season and later obliterated the 1 3/16-mile Bourbon Trail S. at Churchill Downs by 13 lengths.

The Fort Larned is taking place over the same track and distance as the Bourbon Trail, so there’s a lot to like about King Fury. But the chestnut colt hasn’t been quite as effective since stepping outside his own age group, and his lone start this season yielded an eighth-place finish on Tapeta in the April 2 Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park. Could King Fury be vulnerable off the 4 1/2-month layoff?

Rather than support King Fury on top, we’ll aim to beat him with the improving #5 Twilight Blue (5-2). The speedy four-year-old has been in hot form while competing against tough competition at Churchill Downs. On May 13, he employed pace-pressing tactics to win an $80,000 allowance optional claimer over 2021 Ohio Derby (G3) winner Masqueparade. Then on June 25, Twilight Blue employed identical tactics to finish second in a $150,000 allowance optional claimer, beaten a nose by next-out West Virginia Governor’s S. (G3) winner Fulsome.

The Fort Larned field doesn’t contain much speed on paper, so Twilight Blue figures to enjoy a favorable trip on the front end. That stands in contrast to the stretch-running King Fury, who might be compromised by a modest tempo.

So how should we bet the Fort Larned? We’ll start by keying Twilight Blue on top in the trifecta and superfecta. We’ll use King Fury underneath, but only in equal strength with #3 Mr. Wireless (3-1). The latter has tactical speed and proved his class by winning the Indiana Derby (G3) and West Virginia Derby (G3) last season.

  • $3 Trifecta: 5 with 2,3 with 2,3,6,7 ($18)
  • $1 Superfecta: 5 with 2,3 with 2,3,6,7 with 2,3,6,7 ($12)
    Total: $30

Good luck!