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Golden Ticket Works for Homecoming Classic

Golden Ticket 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
The field for the first running of Churchill Downs$175,000-added Homecoming Classic a week from Saturday still has Janis Whitham’s reigning Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade I) and Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) winner Fort Larned at the top, with the rest of the field still taking shape.

One horse listed as “possible” for the Homecoming Classic is Magic City Thoroughbred PartnersGolden Ticket, the dead-heat winner of the 2012 Travers (GI) and runner-up to Fort Larned in the Foster.

The Ken McPeek trainee breezed a half-mile in :49.80 over a sloppy track Saturday morning at Churchill Downs. The work by the 4-year-old son of Speightstown ranked 14th among the day’s 28 moves at the distance.

McPeek’s other possible option for Golden Ticket is the $250,000 Awesome Again (GI) at Santa Anita, which shares the Homecoming Classic’s Sept. 28 running date.

“He’s not definite for the Homecoming Classic,” McPeek said.  “We’re still looking at the California race, but we’re leaning this way.”

McPeek said the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita remains the long-term goal for Golden Ticket.

McPeek’s star has earned $896,323 and has fashioned a career record of 5-5-3 in 18 races.

Meanwhile, trainer Charlie LoPresti has taken Mort Fink’s homebred Successful Dan out of consideration for the Homecoming Classic, but said that the Estate of Elaine Klein, Richard Klein and Bertram Klein’s Windswept will be in the starting gate for the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up.

LoPresti said he would probably point Successful Dan, a 7-year-old half-brother to reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan, toward the Hagyard Fayette Stakes (GII) over the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland on Oct. 28, the the closing day of the Lexington track’s fall meet.

But LoPresti sees the Churchill Downs race as a grand opportunity to Windswept, a 5-year-old homebred son of Arch who is coming off an impressive 9 ¼-length allowance victory at Saratoga. Windswept’s only previous stakes experience was a fourth-place run behind Wilburn in the 2011 Indiana Derby (GII) at Hoosier Park.

Windswept has a 2-0-1 record in four starts since he moved to LoPresti’s barn, and the Saratoga win was preceded by an allowance victory at Churchill Downs, where he has won two-of-three career starts.

“He’s awful good right now,” LoPresti said via telephone from his training base at Keeneland. “I don’t know if he’s good enough to beat Fort Larned, but we’re going to find out.”

The career record of the Klein homebred stands at 3-1-1 in eight races with earnings of $167,296.

Others considered “likely” or “possible” for the Homecoming Classic include William Farish Jr.’s 2011 Stephen Foster Handicap winner Pool Play, Zayat Stables LLC’s multiple graded stakes winner Prayer for Relief and Jay Em Ess Stable’s Worldly.

Entries for the Homecoming Classic will be drawn Sunday.

 

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