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A Homecoming Classic Upset for Golden Ticket or Windswept?

Golden Ticket 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire


If you think that Fort Larned is going to dominate the brand new Homecoming Classic all the way from the opening bell to the winner’s circle celebration at Churchill Downs, well, you may be right. But maybe, just maybe, you’re not. Sorry, if that seems a little wishy-washy, but there are two reasons why I am less than decisive on giving this one to Fort Larned before they run the race, and their names are Golden Ticket and Windswept.

Of the two, Golden Ticket is the one with the established name. Already a grade 1 winner, albeit in a tie, the Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ runner shocked the world when he dead-heated for the win with Alpha in last year’s Travers. Trained by Kenny McPeek, he has not duplicated that result since, but on the other hand, has also steadily moved towards proving that he is more than a one-hit wonder. 

Golden Ticket has won half of his six starts this season, and shows a sharp win at Churchill Downs, a second place finish to none other than Fort Larned in this year’s Grade 1 Stephen Foster, and a romping win in the Prairie Meadows Handicap in his last three starts. For the four-year-old son of Speightstown, the Homecoming Classic is simply a means to an end, with that end being the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Truth to be told, this is the colt that I have been calling my BC Classic dark horse all summer, so you better believe I give him a shot here. Nothing like a little extra pressure heaped on before Saturday night’s race. The winner of just a shade under $900,000 will have Robby Albarado in the irons and break from post three in the field of seven.

Windswept, on the other hand has no big wins to fall back on. This is, for all intents and purposes, new territory to the Charles LoPresti charge. In his only career stakes try to date, he finished fourth behind the talented trio of Wilburn, Shackleford, and Caleb’s Posse in the Indiana Derby as a lightly-raced late bloomer. That effort came two years ago. 

Off for a year-and-a-half due to injury, Windswept returned to the races this spring at Keeneland. He showed nothing that day, but has improved dramatically since. Now five, the homebred son of Arch ran well in two solid allowance races at Churchill Downs, before exploding to a  9 ¼-length allowance romp at Saratoga. The mile and and an eighth, run in 1:48, earned a 103 Beyer. Not quite Fort Larned at his best territory, but demonstration that Windswept is getting good.

“He’s awful good right now,” said LoPresti “I don’t know if he’s good enough to beat Fort Larned, but we’re going to find out.”

Windswept will break from post two under Corey Lanerie, the co-leading rider of the September meet with 13 wins through Sunday. Like Golden Ticket, he will carry 121 pounds, four pounds less than Fort Larned, in the Homecoming Classic.

Saturday night’s feature remains Fort Larned’s race to lose, but at odds of 3-5 or so, Golden Ticket and Windswept provide a couple of attractive alternatives. 


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Older Comments about A Homecoming Classic Upset for Golden Ticket or Windswept?...

This is only for a Breeders Cup,if you have to make back to back trips.If it is only for 1 race,then it is irrelevant.Plus Bullet Bob is known for Shipping.He shipped to Charleston this year for their big race.He shipped Paynter to the Spa and the Midnight Lute filly to Belmont.I have no problem running where they are.Name of the game bottom line ,is to pad your bankroll.Have a big day today Laz, I ent back and saw that Zensational Baby at Woodbine,Big time speed.Kid never moved a muscle.Like how she relaxed on turn ,field almost caught up.Then put it in another gear.For a firster showed her head is as advanced as talent.Not a runaway speed freak.More than likely , 7 furlongs will be her peak.Just like Daddy. But fast,very fast.
It's funny, but we never seem to hear that argument about west coast horses, Game On Dude for instance, shipping east.
Mike ,the prep races are 1 month before the Cup.Forget the finances. For a trainer from the east coast to ship.He would go 3000 miles there,then 3000 miles back. Then in 3 weeks he would have to repeat the process.Your horse woul be flight weary.You can't leave them there.The trainers have other horses to look after,also they need to be in a comfort zone.
shipping out? Do you have any idea how much that would cost? It is better to race right off the plane or wait at the track for a bit. It cost big bucks to do the latter
I don't understand why more horses are not shipping out to Santa Anita for Breeders Cup prep races. A race over the track can only help their chances.
darn.... still think Mucho will be a hand full for that field. Home coming is all about Fort Larned now.
Golden Ticket to the Awesome Again instead of the Homecoming Classic ... I like it; sets him up for the BC Classic.
All Golden Ticket needs to do is replicate his Stephen Foster run and he could be live in here. Of course Fort Larned has to come back to him.
I see your point...both seem to peaking at the right time of the year. My concern in this race is the lack of speed to contest Fort Larned. And we all know how dangerous FL is when he is left alone dictating his own pace.

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