Twilight Blue gets the bob in the photo in Fort Larned

August 14, 2022

LOUISVILLE, Ky– After matching strides throughout the stretch, 6-5 favorite Twilight Blue emerged as a narrow head winner over tracking stablemate Intrepid Heart in Saturday’s inaugural running of the $200,000 Fort Larned for 3- year-olds and up at Churchill Downs. 

Trained by Joe Sharp and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., Twilight Blue covered the 1 3/16 miles on a fast main track in 1:57.09. 

After longshot Artemus Eagle led the field of five older horses through a first quarter mile in :24.11, Twilight Blue asserted himself to the front down the backstretch and a half-mile in :49.33 with Intrepid Heart in close pursuit. Passing the six-furlong marker in 1:13.77, Twilight Blue and Intrepid Heart engraved their prolonged drive midway around the far turn. The two battled shoulder to shoulder to the finish with a head bob deciding the victor. 

“He was really gutsy today,” Hernandez Jr. said. “He took me to the front up the backside and really battled late. It was really cool to win a race named after Fort Larned in the first edition.” 

Image courtesy of Churchill Downs

The win was worth $122,760 and increased Twilight Blue’s earnings to $444,594 with a record of 5-3-1 in 12 starts. Three of his wins have come at Churchill Downs. 

“Both of these horses try so hard all the time and give it their all,” said Sharp, who trains the winner and the hard-luck runner- up. “It’s great to win it with one of them but you’re gutted at the same time for the other to run so well and lose. Both of these horses have been on the right and wrong sides of tight photos in the past. It’s nice to run on this day at Churchill Downs. This is our home track and I’m glad we’re able to be here to support it.” 

Twilight Blue is a Kentucky-bred son of Air Force Blue out of the Rahy mare Lily the Pink and was bred by Knowles Bloodstock Inc. 

Twilight Blue returned $4.76, $2.72 and $2.10. Intrepid Heart, with Tyler Gaffalione up at odds of 7-2, returned $3.44 and $2.48 with King Fury finishing another 1 1⁄4 lengths back in third under Julien Leparoux and paying $2.46 to show as the 9-5 second betting choice. 

It was another 1 3⁄4 lengths back to Mr. Wireless, who was followed in order by Treasure Trove and Artemus Eagle. Keystone Field was scratched. 

Stakes Quotes:

Brian Hernandez Jr., (jockey, Twilight Blue, winner) – “He was really gutsy today. He took me to the front up the backside and really battled late. It was really cool to win a race named after Fort Larned in the first edition.” 

Joe Sharp, (trainer, Twilight Blue and Intrepid Heart, winner and runner-up) – “Both of these horses try so hard all the time and give it their all. It’s great to win it with one of them but you’re gutted at the same time for the other to run so well and lose. Both of these horses have been on the right and wrong sides of tight photos in the past. It’s nice to run on this day at Churchill Downs. This is our home track and I’m glad we’re able to be here to support it.” 

Churchill Downs Media Office
Photo by Coady Photography

@jonathanstettin great read as always!

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