Janis R. Whitham’s Fort Larned led from gate to wire and held off a sustained stretch bid by Mucho Macho Man to win the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic before a crowd of 55,123 at Santa Anita Park, in Arcadia, Calif., on Nov. 3.

The Ian Wilkes-trained Whitney Invitational Handicap winner raced the 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.11 on a fast track and gave jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. a treasured birthday present.

The winner, a 4-year-old son of E Dubai produced from the Broad Brush mare Arlucea, paid $20.80, $9.80, and $6.80. Mucho Macho Man, in a game effort under Mike Smith, finished a half-length behind the winner and returned $6.60 and $4.60. Flat Out, who finished 6 1/2 lengths back in third under Joel Rosario, paid $5.20.

In winning the Classic, Fort Larned earned $2.7 million to increase his bankroll to $3,681,236, and improved his record to 8-2-1 from 19 career starts.

The Classic was expected to play into the hands of Game On Dude, the Bob Baffert-trained son of Awesome Again who appeared to have a home track advantage by virtue of his 5-for-5 record at Santa Anita.

But it did not take long for the race to become a two-horse race as Fort Larned rolled to the front the first time down the stretch while being track by Mucho Macho Man and To Honor and Serve. Rounding the first turn, the leaders stopped the timer in a moderate :23.20 and continued to lead down the backstretch with a half-mile completed in :46.50.

The pace quickened rounding the turn as Much Macho Man took aim at Fort Larned and those two engaged in an exciting stretch duel. Fort Larned, on the inside, was not to be deterred this day, and won by a half