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.
One horse listed as “possible” for the Homecoming Classic is Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Golden Ticket, the dead-heat winner of the 2012 Travers (GI) and runner-up to Fort Larned in the Foster.
The Ken McPeek trainee breezed a half-mile in :49.80 over a sloppy track Saturday morning at Churchill Downs. The work by the 4-year-old son of Speightstown ranked 14th among the day’s 28 moves at the distance.
McPeek’s other possible option for Golden Ticket is the $250,000 Awesome Again (GI) at Santa Anita, which shares the Homecoming Classic’s Sept. 28 running date.
“He’s not definite for the Homecoming Classic,” McPeek said. “We’re still looking at the California race, but we’re leaning this way.”
McPeek said the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita remains the long-term goal for Golden Ticket.
McPeek’s star has earned $896,323 and has fashioned a career record of 5-5-3 in 18 races.
Meanwhile, trainer Charlie LoPresti has taken Mort Fink’s homebred Successful Dan out of consideration for the Homecoming Classic, but said that the Estate of Elaine Klein, Richard Klein and Bertram Klein’s Windswept will be in the starting gate for the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up.
LoPresti said he would probably point Successful Dan, a 7-year-old half-brother to reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan, toward the Hagyard Fayette Stakes (GII) over the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland on Oct. 28, the the closing day of the Lexington track’s fall meet.
But LoPresti sees the Churchill Downs race as a grand opportunity to Windswept, a 5-year-old homebred son of Arch who is coming off an impressive 9 ¼-length allowance victory at Saratoga. Windswept’s only previous stakes experience was a fourth-place run behind Wilburn in the 2011 Indiana Derby (GII) at Hoosier Park.
Windswept has a 2-0-1 record in four starts since he moved to LoPresti’s barn, and the Saratoga win was preceded by an allowance victory at Churchill Downs, where he has won two-of-three career starts.
“He’s awful good right now,” LoPresti said via telephone from his training base at Keeneland. “I don’t know if he’s good enough to beat Fort Larned, but we’re going to find out.”
The career record of the Klein homebred stands at 3-1-1 in eight races with earnings of $167,296.
Others considered “likely” or “possible” for the Homecoming Classic include William Farish Jr.’s 2011 Stephen Foster Handicap winner Pool Play, Zayat Stables LLC’s multiple graded stakes winner Prayer for Relief and Jay Em Ess Stable’s Worldly.
Entries for the Homecoming Classic will be drawn Sunday.
CHAMPION GROUPIE DOLL WORKS EASY HALF-MILE – Champion Groupie Doll continued to prepare for a defense of her victory in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI) with an easy half-mile work over a sloppy track on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
The 5-year-old daughter of Bowman’s Band covered the distance in :50.40 for trainer William “Buff” Bradley with regular exercise partner Jada Schlenk in the saddle. The 2012 Eclipse Award Filly & Mare Sprint champion recorded internal fractions of :13 and :25.60 and galloped our five furlongs in 1:04.40.
“We sent her out early this morning, because she was ready to do something,” Bradley said. “Walking in the shedrow before she went out there she was jumping and bucking a bit, so she knew it was time to do something today.
“We just let her go easy. I told Jada to go in about :50 and don’t ever let her out – just let her go around there. The track was sloppy, but it was sealed and it was in pretty good shape and had a good bottom to it. So we knew if we just let her go around there easy and stretch her legs, it would be good. It was perfect. Everything is going very well.”
After a recent victory in the Presque Isle Masters (GII) at Presque Isle Downs in her second start of 2013, Bradley is pointing Groupie Doll toward a defense of her 2012 victory in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (GII) at Keeneland on Oct. 5. If all goes well there, Bradley will send Groupie Doll back to Santa Anita for a bid for a second consecutive win in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
Owned by a partnership that includes her trainer and his father, Fred Bradley, and Carl Hurst and Brent Burns, Groupie Doll has a career record of 10-4-3 in 19 lifetime races and has earned $1,908,850.
STALL MISHAP TAKES FUSAICHISWONDERFUL OUT OF DOGWOOD - An injury suffered in a minor stall mishap has resulted in the scratch of Unlimited Equine LLC’s Fusaichiswonderful from Saturday’s 30th running of the $100,000-added Dogwood Stakes (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies.
The daughter of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus suffered the injury in her stall at Keeneland on Friday, the eve of what would have been her first start for trainer Tevis McCauley.
“She took a little hide off the inside of her leg, kind of right down the side of the tendon, and it blew up just a little bit,” McCauley said. “It probably would have been fine to run her – it’s more superficial than anything. But she’s too nice a filly to risk anything and I didn’t feel comfortable sending her over there.”
Fusaichiswonderful launched her career with a string of five victories in Puerto Rico that included four stakes wins. She moved to the U.S. barn of trainer Todd Pletcher, who saddled her in four races that included a small stakes race at Gulfstream Park. But she ran very well in a third-place finish behind Baby J in Belmont Park’s Victory Ride (GIII) and a runner-up effort behind So Many Ways in Churchill Downs’ Eight Belles (GIII) on Kentucky Derby Day.
McCauley’s filly, who had been cross-entered in the $400,000-added Charles Town Oaks at West Virginia’s Charles Town, was one three late scratches from the Dogwood as of 1:45 p.m. EDT. She had already scratched from the Charles Town event.
Also declared from the Dogwood were Maggi Moss’ So Many Ways and Blazing Meadow Farm’s Thetaloveandmine. Both of those fillies were cross-entered in the Charles Town race, as was Guadalupe High, a Ronny Werner-trained filly who remains in the race at Churchill Downs.
BARN TALK: Trainer Kenny McPeek had a busy morning aside from the work by possible Homecoming Classic contender Golden Ticket as several of his stable stars worked over the sloppy going at Churchill Downs. Flashy American, winner of Churchill Downs’ Locust Grove and Saratoga’s Alada Stakes in her last two starts, breezed a bullet half-mile in :48. The move by Preston Stables’ 4-year-old filly was the fastest of 28 moves at the distance. McPeek said his claimer-turned-stakes star could run next in the Sept. 28 Zenyatta (GI) at Santa Anita, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI). Also working for McPeek was Magdalena Farm’s 3-year-old Pure Fun, winner of the Hollywood Starlet (GI), who breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 in preparation for a comeback start in the Indiana Oaks (GIII) at Hoosier Park on Oct. 5. That race will be the first start for Pure Fun since a sixth-place run behind Princess of Sylmar in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI). Landaluce Educe Stable’s Rosalind, third in the Pocahontas (GII) at Churchill Downs on Sept. 7, breezed four furlongs in :48.80. The 2-year-old daughter of Broken Vow is being pointed toward the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (GI) over synthetic Polytrack at Keeneland on Oct. 4. ... In a repeat of meets of the past two years at Churchill Downs, Corey Lanerie and Shaun Bridgmohan are battling for the title of “leading rider” of the 12-day September Meet. Lanerie entered Saturday’s racing with a 10-9 lead over Bridgmohan, with three-time Kentucky Derby-winner Calvin Borel and Ricardo Santana Jr. tied for third at six wins. The “leading trainer” race was tight with Steve Asmussen six wins atop the standings with Dale Romans (5) and Steve Margolis (4) in pursuit. Three wins during the meet’s first seven days placed Maggi Moss in front of the race for leading owner, one win-up on a group of six owners tied at two.