all three of his Champagne Stakes wins Todd Pletcher trotted out talented
horses with very bright futures. What he also proved in two of those victories
is that his horses didn’t need a stakes race to prepare for this prestigious Breeders’ Cup Juvenile prep.
2004, his first Champagne victory, Todd Pletcher joined jockey John Velazquez
with his 2-yr-old colt Proud Accolade in the winner’s circle. The Florida bred
colt kept things lively coming off back to back wins at Saratoga, a MSW and
Allowance, before taking out a field of eight in his Graded Stakes debut.
2010, the highly regarded Uncle Mo came storming out of his opening MSW to win
again in impressive fashion. The win officially got the Champagne flowing after
he and John Velazquez cleared the nearest challenger by 4 ¾.
the brief on the two non-graded stakes entries that popped the cork but there’s
also the Graded Stakes tested colt that displayed his experience en route to
scoring Pletcher’s second Champagne in 2006. Scat Daddy carried two Saratoga Stakes
under his belt, a win in the G2 Samford followed by a 2nd in the G1
Hopeful. From there Scat Daddy and guess who took down another Champagne field?
here we are. Not only does Team Pletcher – Velazquez go again looking for their
fourth title together but so does both types of Pletcher entries. Pletcher enters
with a very strong hand of three contenders in the seven horse field but there
is only one Johnny V. So, the other pair will have to make do but they should
not be overlooked going into the G1 $400,000 Champagne Stakes.
begin with the horse that has been the most talked about so far. Obviously
we’re going to be referring to a horse that has received such attention because
he has a lot in common in with Scat Daddy, two stakes races. After scoring with
ease in his MSW debut at Aqueduct, Shanghai Bobby, owned by Starlight Racing, was
set for his first stakes race. The son of Harlan’s Holiday was probably
carrying the most hype heading into the Track Barron Stakes at Belmont but he
lived up to it and won again.
electric start over races of 4 ½ and 5 ½ Furlongs put Shanghai Bobby in the
spotlight where it was time to shine against Graded Stakes class for the very first
time. Maybe he was the odds on favorite because he was paired with another
Pletcher entry, Lawn Man, but it didn’t matter because the favorite won. The
score in the 7 Furlong G2 Hopeful was a brilliant effort and certified him as a
legitimate BC Juvenile contender as the win awarded him an automatic
only question that remains for Shanghai Bobby in this his second Breeders’ Cup
Challenge Series – “Win and You’re In” race is the distance factor. What solves
that query for me is the length of time that it has been since his racing
career began. More and more it’s common for BC Juvenile horses to be held out
of racing until late summer or early fall whereas Shanghai Bobby began rather
quickly. His first race was in April, followed by June and then August. There’s
something about this progression that leads me to believe that he’s developed the
legs for the distance and that Pletcher’s original plan is well underway. This
however leads me to my only other question – can he beat his stable mates?
horses enter after notching maiden wins within two days of each other at
Saratoga this summer. Yet, according to the Belmont Park odds maker Eric
Donovan, there’s a big enough difference between them. ArchWarrior by Arch –
Winner’s Edge by Seeking the Gold has been tabbed the ML favorite at 5/2.
There’s always a horse in every Juvenile field that is going to receive high accolades
on the morning line without much racing to support it. Usually it has
everything to do with their connections or in Archwarrior’s case maybe it’s the
monster of tag teams - Pletcher and Velazquez.
so, it might be his final time in his 6 furlong debut followed by his works at
Belmont Park. His winning time of 1:10.07 after being urged to the wire by hand
was a very nice start. Since landing at Belmont it’s been a breeze – 5f @
1:00.22 on 9/24 and 1:00.09 on 9/30.
not sure if these factors alone give him enough to have earned the role of the
Champagne favorite over Shanghai Bobby and Jockey Rosie Napravnik (3-1) but
that can always change before they break from the post.
out Pletcher’s Trio is Micromanage, son of Medaglia D’Oro. Like Uncle Mo this
colt is owned by Mike Repole who will be going for his second Champagne win. If
you think Archwarrior’s first appearance was fast, Micromanage wasn’t too
shabby either. Not only did he finish 7 furlongs in 1:23.01, he split through
6f in 1:10.72. If you like him you’re looking at a much better price on the ML:
guess is that one of Pletcher’s three horses is going to prove that the 1 Mile
distance was too much of a stretch at this point in their racing career.
Secondly, for Archwarrior and Micromanage it’s almost mandatory that they crack
the top three for me to believe that we’ll see them enter into the BC Juvenile.
for the other four horses that round out the field there are two familiar faces
that are looking to settle the score. Fortify returns after a 2nd
place finish to Shanghai Bobby in the Hopeful and Bern Identity returns after
finishing 3rd. The difference between these two promising Juvenile’s
is where they’re header after the Champagne. It’s been speculated that Bern
Identity is more likely to enter the BC Juvenile Sprint while Fortify looks
destined for the Juvenile. But something tells me that like all Stakes races with
BC implications at this point in the calendar, nothing will be decided until
the chips fall where they may on Saturday.
a disappointing second place finish with Know More in the FrontRunner Stakes,
Doug O’Neil heads east in attempt to score his first BC
Juvenile automatic qualifier this year. There are high expectations for Goldencents,
a lightly raced youngster as well. Coming off his Maiden win and only start he
showed enough to meet Shanghai Bobby at 3-1 on the ML and become the co-second
choice. There has been speculation that this colt may be better than Know More
so it will be interesting to see him match up against this talented field.
Chief Havoc rounds out the field as the expected long shot but he still deserves a
good look especially for any exotic plays. Here is the field for Saturday’s
Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.
Good luck to all of our entries but who's popping the Champagne on Saturday? It should be a very interesting race as this field have very bright futures ahead of them. Don't be surprised if any of these contenders reappear on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" as the Champagne is also a Graded Stakes race for the new points / qualification system.