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Three of the most accomplished 2-year-olds on the grounds turned in major training moves at Churchill Downs on Sunday in preparation for what their connections hope will be a trip to Southern California and success in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade I) at Santa Anita on Saturday, Nov. 2.
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.
Two horses that have enjoyed some of their finest moments over the main track at Churchill Downs worked at the track Friday in preparation for their respective bids for next week’s first running of the $175,000-added Homecoming Classic, the last of eight stakes races conducted during the September meet.
It has been nearly a year since A Stevens Miles’ multiple stakes winner Neck n’ Neck went to the sidelines while training for a bid for Churchill Downs’ Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (Grade I), but a Sunday workout provided solid evidence that the son of Flower Alley could be stepping into a starting gate soon for trainer Ian Wilkes.
Vuitton took advantage of an early speed duel and rallied from last to run down Sweet Cassiopeia by one length to win Saturday’s fifth running of the $108,100 Open Mind at Churchill Downs.
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.
In his 78 years and lifetime in around horses, Hall of Fame trainer and four-time Kentucky Derby (Grade I) winner D. Wayne Lukas is not surprised by much when he reports to the track each day for morning training.
Veteran Gary Hartlage has long been one of the most popular trainers at Churchill Downs, especially with longtime friends and residents of the nearby neighborhood of Shively, where the man affectionately known as “Red Dog” grew up.
Janis Whitham’s Fort Larned, reigning winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade I) and a dominant winner of the Churchill Downs’ Stephen Foster Handicap (GI), returned to the track at Churchill Downs on Saturday to resume his preparations for bid for a second consecutive victory in the Classic at Santa Anita.
‘NOT A SCRATCH’ ON WISE DAN AFTER GUTSY FIRECRACKER WIN