Inaugural Homecoming Classic to feature Fort Larned

The Sports NetworkSeptember 17, 2013 

Breeders' Cup Classic winner Fort Larned has one more start on his agenda before he defends his crown on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old, trained by Ian Wilkes, will go in the inaugural running of the $175,000 Homecoming Classic at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Sept. 28.

"Our goal is to try and win the Breeders' Cup Classic again," Wilkes said. "We want to do what we feel is right for the horse. We keep him here and run him a mile and an eighth. He's on his track with a one-race ship. Otherwise I'm going to ship to Belmont and ship back again.

"It just fit into our plans to run him here. If we didn't have the September Meet and didn't have this race, we would have gone to the Jockey Club."

Last year prior to capturing the Classic, Fort Larned ran in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park and finished third as the 5-2 favorite behind defending race winner Flat Out.

Owned by Janis Whitham, Fort Larned had a workout Tuesday morning at Churchill where covered five furlongs in 59 4/5 seconds with Brian Hernandez Jr. riding before galloping out six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 and seven furlongs in 1:25 3/5.

"Brian said he felt great and didn't feel any different," Wilkes said. "He came off the track with authority. He walked off the track like he owned the place. That's what I liked about it - he's got that air of confidence about him."

The 5-year-old was scratched from Saratoga's Woodward on Aug. 31 due to a muscle strain.

Fort Larned's only win this year came in the Stephen Foster at Churchill back on June 15. His first start of 2013 proved to be disastrous when he dumped Hernandez at the start of the Gulfstream Park Handicap in March.

He was fifth in both the Oaklawn Handicap and Whitney Invitational.

Fort Larned has earned just over $4 million with nine wins in 23 career starts.

Possible opponents for Fort Larned in the Homecoming Classic are Pool Play, Golden Ticket, Windswept, Agent Di Nozzo, Worldly and Prayer for Relief.

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