POST TIME 5:46 EST -- The return of #7 Strong Mandate post his scintillating victory in the G1 Hopeful and the follow up to #5 Honor Code's eye-popping maiden debut win make this year's Champagne Stakes one of the most highly anticipated BC preps of the year. The one-turn mile at Belmont plays like a long sprint. This field is loaded with horses featuring bountiful early energy distribution profiles with most stretching out for the first time. This sets things up very well for #5 Honor Code. I can not recall the last time I had seen a 2 year-old earn an unheard of BRIS late pace figure of 138! Anything near 110 would have been super impressive. Did that late burst take something out of this horse? I don't think so and we might witness today something quite special and I'll have #5 Honor Code squarely on top. #7 Strong Mandate is getting better with each race. If #5 Honor Code fails to fire, then Strong Mandate is the only other horse I can see winning the Champagne Stakes. He'll sit that great stalking trip on a surface that has been very kind to those on or near the lead. As for upsetters underneath, I like Nick Zito's horse #8 Grand Arrival and Todd Pletcher's charge, #9 Intense Holiday. Both horses show the ability to reserve some energy while not being too far back in the early stages.
$20 Exacta 5 with 7,8,9
$10 Exacta 5,7 with 8,9