09/27/2014 4:29PM

Cigar Street scores in Homecoming Classic

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Cigar Street, with Shaun Bridgmohan aboard, wins the Homecoming Classic by 1 3/4 lengths Saturday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Tall high-fives were being given all around Saturday following the $133,500 Homecoming Classic at Churchill Downs, where Cigar Street turned back the favored Departing to win the 1 1/8-mile race and perhaps stamp his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.

Rashard Lewis, the lanky NBA veteran, was on hand to watch Cigar Street, whom he co-owns with Jake Ballis, who is equally as tall. The jubilant men and their friends celebrated boisterously as Cigar Street, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, crossed under the wire 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Departing in a field of six older horses.

Cigar Street, trained by Bill Mott, was making his second start since returning from a 17-month layoff. He returned $6.80 as the second choice after finishing in 1:49.86 over a fast track.

“I don’t know, maybe we’ll have to go to the Breeders’ Cup, considering how some of the top older horses have gone by the wayside this year,” Ballis, a former basketball player at the University of Houston, said in reference to either the $5 million BC Classic on Nov. 1 or $1 million BC Dirt Mile on Oct. 31. “We’ll talk about it with Bill and see what we want to do.”

Cigar Street, by Street Sense, has won five of eight career starts. He earned $83,170 to push his bankroll to $283,908.

Cigar Street was always in a good position in the Homecoming, stalking 35-1 shot Call Me George to the far turn before inching ahead. Straightening for home, Departing, the 13-10 choice, loomed a major threat to the outside, but steady urging from Bridgmohan kept Cigar Street safely ahead to the finish.

Call Me George held third, a half-length behind Departing and a neck before Pick of the Litter. Carve, the disappointment of the race as the 3-1 third choice, was fifth, with Perfect Title trailing throughout.

The $2 exacta (5-4) paid $17.40, the $1 trifecta (5-4-2) returned $98.40, and the 10-cent superfecta (5-4-2-6) was worth $25.87.

Sunday is closing day of the 12-day September meet, with action on this circuit moving Friday, Oct. 3, to Keeneland.