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Fort Larned’s Classic stunner tops upset-filled weekend in Breeders’ Cup

Fort Larned (right) 9-1 long shot wClassic stretch duel with Mucho Macho Man. | Jeff Gross~Getty Images

Fort Larned (right), a 9-1 long shot, won the Classic in a stretch duel with Mucho Macho Man. | Jeff Gross~Getty Images

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Updated: December 5, 2012 6:51AM

ARCADIA, Calif. — Bob Baffert got beat again in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Bill Mott settled for half of a repeat sweep in the weekend’s two biggest races.

The Hall of Fame trainers could only wince as 9-1 long shot Fort Larned won North America’s richest race on Saturday night, capping a weekend of upsets in the world championships at Santa Anita.

Fort Larned ran the race of his life, leading all the way to win by a half-length over Mucho Macho Man.

The highly anticipated Classic was strictly a two-horse race to the finish. Game On Dude, the 7-5 favorite, ran what Baffert said was “probably the worst race of his life” in finishing seventh.

Mott’s trio of Flat Out (third), Ron the Greek (fourth) and To Honor and Serve (10th) came up short.

Mott, unlike Baffert, didn’t leave empty-handed. Royal Delta successfully defended her title in the $2 million Ladies’ Classic on Friday, as one of only four favorites to win in 15 races over two days.

The spotlight belonged to an unheralded horse named for an old post in Kansas that protected the Santa Fe Trail, a jockey who rides in racing’s minor leagues, and a low-profile trainer.

“The prestige of winning this race in front of the world is unbelievable,” jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. said.

He celebrated his 27th birthday with the biggest victory of his career. Trainer Ian Wilkes could say the same.

“Fort Larned just gave us the greatest birthday present ever,” said Hernandez, who was the leading rider this year at Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs.

Fort Larned ran 1¼ miles in 2:00.11 in the showcase race of the two-day world championships. The 4-year-old colt paid $20.80 to win. Wilkes had never won such a big race.

Other Day 2 winners before a crowd of 55,123 included Little Mike (Turf), Shanghai Bobby (Juvenile), Wise Dan (Mile), Trinniberg (Sprint), George Vancouver (Juvenile Turf), Mizdirection (Turf Sprint), Groupie Doll (Filly & Mare Sprint) and Tapizar (Dirt Mile).

Rosie Napravnik joined Julie Krone as the only female jockeys to win a BC race when she guided Shanghai Bobby to victory.

“As long as you’ve got the horse underneath you, you can get the job done,” said Napravnik, who started her career riding under her initials A.R. so no one would realize she was a woman. AP

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