Breeders' Cup Classic winner Fort Larned will take on six challengers in his final race before he defends his title in five weeks at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old, trained by Ian Wilkes, headlines the inaugural running of the $175,000 Homecoming Classic at Churchill Downs on Saturday night.
Owned by Janis Whitham, Fort Larned will start the 1 1/8-mile stakes from post 5 with his regular jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. again riding. The pair have teamed up for four wins over the last eight races.
Last year prior to capturing the Breeders' Cup 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.
Most recently, 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. He has won two of six career starts at the historic track with a second for $432,264.
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 this year in both the Oaklawn Handicap and Whitney Invitational.
Fort Larned has earned just over $4 million with nine wins in 23 career starts.
Foster Handicap runner-up Golden Ticket will break from post 3 with Robby Albarado getting the mount for trainer Ken McPeek and Magic City Thoroughbred Partners.
Golden Ticket won the Prairie Meadows Handicap two months ago and is best known for his dead heat victory with Alpha in last year's Travers.
The 4-year-old colt has won five of 18 career starts, with five seconds, for $896,323.
Here is the complete field for the Homecoming from the rail out: Pool Play, Miguel Mena; Windswept, Corey Lanerie; Golden Ticket, Robby Albarado; Prayer for Relief, Ricardo Santana Jr.; Fort Larned, Brian Hernandez Jr.; Worldly, David Flores and Agent Di Nozzo, Shaun Bridgmohan.
Post-time for the Homecoming Classic will be approximately 9:05 p.m. (ET).