09/22/2013 12:26PM

Churchill Downs: Fort Larned to face six in Homecoming Classic

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Barbara D. Livingston
Fort Larned will use Saturday's Homecoming Classic as his final prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 2.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Fort Larned was assigned post 5 in a field of seven older horses for the inaugural running of the $175,000 Homecoming Classic, a 1 1/8-mile race to be run Saturday night on a Downs After Dark card at Churchill Downs.

Fort Larned, the winner of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic, figures to be a heavy favorite in the Homecoming as he makes his final start before returning to Santa Anita for the 2013 renewal of the $5 million BC Classic on Nov. 2.

Before dawn Monday, Fort Larned had his final pre-race breeze, going five furlongs in 1:02.40 over a fast Churchill track with regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard.

The Homecoming lost a bit of steam over the weekend when trainer Charlie LoPresti said he would not enter Successful Dan, as he had been considering. LoPresti said he will wait instead for the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes on Oct. 26 at Keeneland for the 7-year-old gelding. LoPresti still will have Windswept in the Homecoming.

The Homecoming, the richest and only newly created stakes at the new September meet at Churchill, is carded as the seventh of 11 Saturday races. First post is 6 p.m. Eastern, with the Homecoming set for 9:05. HRTV will have live coverage.

From the rail, this is the field: Pool Play, Windswept, Golden Ticket, Prayer for Relief, Fort Larned, Worldly, and Agent Di Nozzo.

Under allowance conditions, Fort Larned will be the 125-pound highweight. Prayer for Relief will carry 123, and the rest tote 121.

Directly following the Homecoming is the Grade 3, $100,000 Jefferson Cup (race 8, 9:39) for 3-year-olds at a mile on turf. A well-matched field of nine is entered, including the uncoupled Graham Motion pair of Rapscallion and Tate’s Landing.

Churchill officials announced Sunday that a $100,000 pool guarantee will be in effect for the late pick four (races 8-11) on the Downs After Dark card.

The Homecoming and Jefferson Cup anchor the second-to-last program of a 12-day meet, with next Sunday being closing day. The 17-day Keeneland fall meet starts Oct. 4.