It is a newcomer on the racing calendar, but Churchill Downs’ inaugural running of the $175,000-added Homecoming Classic during its new September Meet has drawn
a high-powered roster of nominations that includes the names of five winners of Grade I stakes events.
Topping the roster of 28 accomplished 3-year-olds and up made eligible for the new 1 1/8-mile race on the main track is Janis Whitham’s Fort Larned,
reigning winner of the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic
(Grade I) and winner of the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) at Churchill
Downs. The latter was a performance that ranks among the top efforts by
an older horse in North America in 2013.
Fort Larned’s most recent start was a fifth-place finish behind Cross Traffic in Saratoga’s Whitney (GI). He missed a scheduled start in the Woodward (GI) with a muscle strain, and trainer Ian Wilkes
has indicated that the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI), which will
also be run on Sept. 28, would be the next start for Fort Larned.
The 5-year-old son of E Dubai
returned to training a week ago with a gallop at Churchill Downs and
breezed four furlongs in :49 on Thursday, Sept. 12.
Fort Larned, being pointed by
Wilkes toward a run in the 2013 Breeders’ Classic at Santa Anita, has a
9-2-1 record in 23 races and career earnings of $4,053,917.
Other Grade I-winning stars on the roster of Homecoming Classic nominees include William S. Farish Jr.’s Pool Play, winner of the 2011 Stephen Foster Handicap for trainer Mark Casse; Magic City
Thoroughbred Partners’ Golden Ticket, winner of the 2012 Travers (GI) for trainer Ken McPeek in a dead-heat finish with Alpha; Twin Creeks Racing Stable LLC’s Graydar, winner of the 2013 Donn Handicap (GI) at Gulfstream
Park and the New Orleans Handicap (GII) at Fair Grounds for trainer Todd Pletcher; and Stuart Janney’s Hymn Book, winner of the 2012 Donn Handicap for trainer Shug McGaughey.
Other accomplished nominees include Mort Fink’s homebred Successful Dan, runner-up in the Whitney and winner of Keeneland’s Ben Ali (GIII) and the 2012 Alysheba (GII) at Churchill Downs; Southern Equine
Stables LLC’s 3-year-old Moreno, runner-up to Will Take Charge in the 2013 Travers; John D. Gunther’s Last Gunfighter, owner of a trio of Grade III wins in the Monmouth’s Iselin Handicap, the Pimlico Special and Aqueduct’s Excelsior;
Zayat Stable’s multiple graded stakes winner Prayer for Relief, winner of the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker (GIII); Clovertowne Farm’s Taptowne, runner-up in the recent Ack Ack Handicap (GIII) along with the Oaklawn Handicap (GII) and
Prairie Meadows Cornhusker; and the Estate of Elaine Klein, Richard and Bert Klein’s Windswept, a winner of two of three races at Churchill Downs.
The Homecoming Classic will share the spotlight on the Sept. 28 “Downs After Dark” night racing program with 37th running of the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup (GIII), a one-mile race
for 3-year-olds on the Matt Winn Turf Course that had previously been run during the track’s Spring Meet.
The list of 24 horses nominated to the Jefferson Cup is topped by Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Admiral’s Kitten, winner of the Secretariat (GI) at Arlington Park last time out for trainer Mike Maker.
The homebred Kitten’s Joy colt has a 3-4-0 record in eight races with earnings of $459,080. The Ramseys’ Redwood Kitten, third in the Del Mar Derby (GII), also is nominated.
Other nominees include Arlington Classic (GIII) winner General Election; Shadwell Stable’s Sayaad, winner of the Dance of Life at Saratoga; Long Island Racing Stable’s New York Derby
winner West Hills Giant; Westrock Stable’s Den’s Legacy, runner up in the La Jolla (GII), Sham (GIII), Robert B. Lewis (GII) and Affirmed (GIII); Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Arkansas Derby runner-up Frac Daddy, who finished
18th in the Kentucky Derby (GI); Copper Penny Stable’s 2012 Laurel Futurity winner Tate’s Landing; and Serena’s Dream Catcher Farm’s Balino, winner of Calder’s Naked Greed last out.