a reason certain stakes races are chosen for the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Challenge. When
it comes to the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park and the Breeders’ Futurity at
Keeneland there’s only one reason that if you win, you’re in; they produce
we approach the 30th anniversary of the Breeders’ Cup this November,
it’s important that we recognize just how significant these races have been to
the Juvenile division. Specifically, let’s permit the stats to do the talking;
13 of the previous 29 winners stopped here last.
that’s what I call a serious Juvenile prep. And since the Champagne and
Futurity deserve the credit, and by all means our attention on Saturday, let me
ask the Nation a very important question. Which do you prefer or favor?
some help? No problem, let’s compare.
begin with the score. After Shanghai Bobby stole the show at Santa Anita in
2012 the Champagne Stakes extended its lead over the Futurity by a count of 8
to 5. Another lead the Champagne took was in the “what have you done for me
lately” category. Due to the Champagne’s dominance over the last seven years
there’s no question who’s hot versus who’s not. Prior to 2006 the score was
even at 5 a piece but now the Champagne holds a 3 point advantage.
2006 Street Sense Futurity 3rd
2007 War Pass Champagne 1st
2010 Uncle Mo Champagne 1st
2013 Shanghai Bobby Champagne 1st
the Champagne stakes is on a roll. But, the Breeders’ Futurity has also enjoyed
a period of superiority itself. In 1995 Unbridled’s Song used the Champagne to
gear up for a big day at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The win made it two
Champagne starters in a row as Unbridled’s Song followed Timber Country the
this time the Breeder’s Futurity had fallen behind but they came back strong
over the course of the next three years. It all began when Boston Harbor
continued his Juvenile dominance by winning both the Futurity and the Juvenile.
Repeating the achievement was Favorite Trick and jockey Pat Day in 1997. Although
Answer Lively would not make it a total three peat, he did complete the hat
trick by becoming the third consecutive Breeders’ Futurity starter to win the
Timber Country Champagne 1st
1995 Unbridled’s Song Champagne 4th
1996 Boston Harbor Futurity 1st
1997 Favorite Trick Futurity 1st
1998 Answer Lively Futurity
in a row is pretty impressive but in case you didn’t know, it had been done
already. In 1988 a legendary colt named Easy Goer did what he did best at
Belmont Park. But, it was the horse that finished 2nd that would go
on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Is It True capped off 3 consecutive wins for Trainer D. Wayne Lukas as it also became the first ever race to
produce three consecutive Juvenile winners. Following Is It True would be Rhythm
and Fly So Free.
1988 Is It True Champagne 2nd
1989 Rhythm Champagne
1990 Fly So Free Champagne
there’s the question of who was first. That honor goes to the Breeders’
Futurity and the second Juvenile champion Tasso in 1985.
1985 Tasso Futurity 1st
that’s where it all began for these two races. But, where will it lead in 2013?
it on this year’s entries, I again give the advantage to the
Champagne Stakes. First we have to begin with the ML favorite, Strong Mandate,
a horse that no Futurity entry can compare to. Just to give you an idea of how
the D. Wayne Lukas horse is regarded look at the morning line odds. Strong
Mandate is your 5/2 favorite while the horse that finished 2nd and
over 9 lengths back in the G1 Hopeful is 20-1.
then there’s Debt Ceiling and Honor Code. While I think Debt Ceiling has the
edge due to his Graded Stakes win in the G3 Bashford Manor, I can understand
why some may be so high on Honor Code despite the fact that he has yet to race
in a graded stakes.
it comes to Juveniles it’s not always about whether or not you have
entered a graded stakes race. Both Havana and Grand Arrival have lower ML odds
than Debt Ceiling and that’s because they may be better but haven’t been
given the chance to prove it.
those types of Juveniles make up the majority of the field in the Breeders’
Futurity. It’s going to be a full house, 14 starters, and all will be looking to
make their mark on the Juvenile prep season. As far as the horse that stands
out to me compared to the Champagne field thus far it's Solitary Ranger, winner
of the G3 Arlington Washington Futurity.
I don’t mean to ignore the potential of contenders like We Miss Artie,
Tiznowforamerica, Conquest Titan, Rum Point or Kendall’s Boy I’m having a hard
time giving the Breeders’ Futurity the advantage. In fact, I truly believe the
Champagne Stakes has an overwhelming chance of producing the next Juvenile
winner when compared to the Futurity.
as much as I love thoroughbred racing in the Bluegrass State and that I do consider Street Sense to be the best Juvenile winner that ever came from the Champagne or Futurity, I have to give
the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park the clear advantage right now. It scores
big with its recent success, racing on dirt doesn’t hurt and the 2013 field has
a much stronger crop of Juveniles.
the Champagne Stakes is my winner. How about you?