Headlined by the top three finishers from the Sept. 6 Ack Ack Handicap (Grade III), multiple graded stakes winning millionaire Departing and graded stakes winner Cigar Street, the $125,000 Homecoming Classic attracted 24 nominees, while the $100,000 Jefferson Cup (GIII) closed with 25 nominations, which included Grade I-placed Medal Count and Secretariat (GI) runner-up Tourist.
Both the 1 1/8-mile Homecoming Classic and Jefferson Cup at one mile on turf will be run Saturday, Sept. 27 at Churchill Downs.
A start for Jake Ballis and Rashard Lewis’ Cigar Street would be just his second since taking the Skip Away (GIII) at Gulfstream on March 30, 2013. The 5-year-old son of Street Sense was plagued with injuries after his Skip Away victory but made his return on Aug. 22, where he ran a game second to Pick of the Litter in an allowance race at Saratoga going 1 1/8 miles. Crossed Sabres Farm’s Pick of the Litter also is nominated to the Homecoming Classic for trainer Dale Romans.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Cigar Street has won four of seven starts and earned $200,738, while Pick of the Letter is 4-for-16 with $265,955 in earnings.
The Ack Ack Handicap’s top three finishers: Bradester (winner), Carve (second) and Flashback (third) have been nominated to the Homecoming Classic although Bradester’s trainer Eddie Kenneally said after his Sept. 6 victory that they likely would point to the Kelso Handicap (GII) also run on Sept. 27 at Belmont Park.
Trainer Al Stall Jr. said that Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing would be a likely starter for the Homecoming Classic. The 4-year-old son of War Front won his first start of 2014 at Churchill Downs in an allowance event, followed that with a third-place effort in the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) and most recently finished eighth in the Aug. 3 Whitney Handicap (GI) at Saratoga. Departing has won seven of 12 starts and banked $1,521,340.
Spendthrift Farm LLC’s Medal Count is coming off a runner-up effort in the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs where he was beaten a nose by My Afleet at the wire. The Romans trainee would be making a significant cutback in distance should he enter in the Jefferson Cup, having made his last five starts at the distance of 1 1/8 miles or more. Through 11 starts Medal Count has won three and earned $470,850.
Gary Barber and Winstar Farm LLC’s Tourist made his last start in the Aug. 16 Secretariat at Arlington for Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott, where he finished second beaten 1 1/2 lengths. The 3-year-old son of Tiznow has three wins from eight starts with $255,820 in earnings.
Also nominated to the Jefferson Cup, Thomas Conway and Mike Maker’s General Jack made his last start in the Secretariat where he finished seventh. Prior to that start, the Maker trainee won the Centaur at Indiana Downs at the same distance as the Jefferson Cup. The son of Giant’s Causeway has banked $240,358 in nine starts, winning three.
Source: Churchill Downs Communications