Darley Stable's homebred FORT HUGHES (Henny Hughes) hustled to the early lead and extended his advantage en route to a stakes record-setting score in Monday's $65,000 Jimmy Winkfield S., the Martin Luther King Jr. Day feature at Aqueduct. Dispatched as the 7-5 favorite, the Kiaran McLaughlin pupil blitzed six furlongs on the fast inner track in 1:08.33, bettering Farmonthefreeway's old stakes mark of 1:08 4/5 set in 1993, and not far off the inner track record of 1:07.93.
"He's really coming into his own -- better than we could have imagined earlier," assistant trainer Artie Magnuson said of the three-year-old colt, who became the first stakes winner sired by Henny Hughes. "We're happy with where he is right now in terms of his development. We were very excited about him after his first race."
Fort Hughes, who romped by 5 1/2 lengths in his debut at Belmont Park on October 10, just missed when second by a head to Royal Currier (Red Bullet) in the December 21 Southampton S. at Parx Racing. He renewed rivalry with Royal Currier here, and unlike last time, Fort Hughes was able to beat him to the front.
Rousted along by Eddie Castro from the gate, Fort Hughes zipped ahead of Royal Currier through fractions of :22.21 and :44.67. Royal Currier, who was floated out wide by Fort Hughes on the backstretch, tried to stay within shouting distance, but Fort Hughes turned on the afterburners entering the stretch. The chestnut kicked 4 3/4 lengths clear and paid $4.80, $2.80 and $2.10.
Royal Currier had 2 3/4 lengths to spare over third-place finisher Rift (Not for Love) in the strung-out field of six.
Fort Hughes advanced his record to 3-2-1-0, $84,600. The Kentucky-bred is the second foal from Argentinean champion two-year-old filly Forty Greeta (Arg) (Roar), who is also responsible for an unnamed juvenile colt by Hard Spun and a yearling filly by Bernardini.
"We'll look at the (March 5) Fred 'Cappy' Capossela next, unless (Darley America President) Jimmy Bell and Kiaran want to take him to Florida," Magnuson said.