Odds-on favorite Fort Larned won the first ever running of the $175,000 Homecoming Classic at Churchill Downs on Saturday night, using the 1 1/8-mile stakes as a final prep before he defends his title in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Trained by Ian Wilkes and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., Fort Larned went off as the 3-10 favorite in the six-horse field. The favorite took the lead shortly after the start and set the pace the rest of the way.
Owned by Janis Whitham, Fort Larned opened up through the backstretch by as much as five lengths. Worldly, ridden by David Flores, began to cut into the lead around the final turn.
Fort Larned kept his lead intact down the stretch even as Windswept made a late rally. The final margin of victory was 1 1/2 lengths over Windswept with Worldly finishing third.
Agent Di Nozzo was fourth followed by Prayer for Relief and Pool Play. Golden Ticket was scratched to run in Santa Anita's Awesome Again Stakes where he finished fourth.
The time for the Homecoming Classic was 1:48.58 on a fast track.
Fort Larned picks up $117,405 with the win. The 5-year-old has career earnings of $4,171,322 with 10 wins in 23 starts.
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.
His only other win this year came in the Stephen Foster at Churchill back on June 15. Most recently, the 5-year-old was scratched from Saratoga's Woodward on Aug. 31 due to a muscle strain.
Fort Larned paid $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10. Windswept returned $4.40 and $3.60, and Worldly paid $6.00 to show.