Fort Larned's victory in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Classic wasn't expected, but it sure was exciting. Holding a wire-to-wire lead isn't easy, but Brian Hernandez Jr. rode the 4-year-old colt to the big win.
The race was close, but that was only because of one other competitor. Mucho Macho Man was able to keep pace down the stretch, nearly snatching victory from the winner. Finishing second isn't ideal, but Bob Baffert wouldn't have minded it.
Baffert, one of the world's best horse trainers, has never trained a Breeders' Cup Classic-winning horse. His horse, Game on Dude, was the favorite entering Saturday's race but wound up finishing seventh after falling way back on the race's final stretch.
Fort Larned is the big winner here, but the colt isn't the only factor involved. Let's take a look at what you need to know about Saturday's star thoroughbred.
Trainer: Brian Hernandez Jr.
According to equibase.com, Hernandez Jr. is ranked No. 43 among jockeys in terms of earnings. He's ridden several different horses this year, but this is his first time riding Fort Larned and the second time he's ridden an Ian Wilkes trained horse.
He has a solid reputation. He's not Mike Smith or Rafael Bejarano, but he did out-duel both of those jockeys on Saturday.
Trainer: Ian Wilkes
Wilkes has trained Unbridled, a former Breeders' Cup Classic winner and 1990 Kentucky Derby champion. He also had a hand in the training of 2006 Breeders' Cup winner Juvenile and 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.
He's a renowned hand in the horse's stable, and attributing this win to his training skill makes sense.
Fort Larned has Mr. Prospector and E Dubai in his family bloodline. E Dubai's bloodline is well known, siring several championship horses along the way.
A horse's pedigree is incredibly important. Without that bloodline, a horse wouldn't be a thoroughbred. Wilkes and Hernandez Jr. certainly played a part in his victory, but his ancestors played a major part in his win as well.
According to ESPN.com.