THE CHAMPAGNE STAKES
The Champagne Stakes(Grade I; $500,000) will be a
hotly-contested one mile one-turn race for 2-year-olds. This race will also award points for next
year’s Kentucky Derby, though minimal.
The field for this event looks real solid, and most, if not all, are
lightly-raced. The disparity of odds(5-2
to 20-1) does not indicate the closeness in ability. Let’s take a look at this decent field:
Jy. Luis Saez; Tr. Mario Morales.
Sire: Sightseeing. Broodmare Sire: Buddha.
Career 3-1-1-1, $82,250). Broke
his maiden in his 2nd race at Calder Race Course, and then shipped
up to Saratoga for the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes, that was contested in the
mud. He ran a distant 2nd to
the favorite of today’s race. Maybe the
mud track took away from his best effort?
He indicates a readiness for this race, turning in a bullet work. Saez retains the mount.
ON CURLIN(12-1, Jy. Alex Solis; Tr. William Gowan. Sire:
Street Sense. Broodmare
Sire: Storm Cat. Career:
3-1-1-0, $34,929). Also broke
his maiden in his 2nd race, at Ellis Park, in impressive
fashion. His last race was the Iroquois
Stakes(Grade III) at Churchill, in which he was a close-up 4th(2 ½ lengths)
as the favorite. He and Intensive
Holiday are the only two horses in this race that have went a mile, or
further. Picks up the services of Solis
since regular rider, Calvin Borel, has opted to ride in the Indiana Derby
aboard Ruler of Love.
Jy. Irad Ortiz; Tr. Todd Pletcher.
Sire: Dunkirk. Broodmare Sire: Kyle’s Our Man. Career:
1-1-0-0, $48,000). Ran an
impressive debut, under John Velazquez.
Though the horse is one of the favorites, JV has opted to ride for
Pletcher at Keeneland in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity aboard We Miss
Artie. Wonder if Havana is regarded as a
2nd stringer? Still looks as
a good contender, and Ortiz is up-and-coming.
CEILING(10-1, Jy. Junior Alvarado; Tr.
John Robb. Sire: Discreet Cat.
Broodmare Sire: Marquetry. Career:
5-4-0-0, $183,547). Interesting
colt tries his 6th different track in as many tries. Has conquered at all tracks with the
exception of his one out at Saratoga in the Sanford Stakes(Grade II). Has not gone beyond 6 furlongs in any race,
but is prepping well up to this race, based on four bullet works out of the
last 5 works.
CODE(3-1, Jy. Javier Castellano; Tr.
Shug McGaughey. Sire: A.P. Indy.
Broodmare Sire: Storm Cat. Career:
1-1-0-0, $48,000). Impressive
debut saw this regally-bred colt come from 22 lengths back to win by four in a
seven furlong race in the slop. John
Velazquez had rode this one in his debut, but he’s riding elsewhere. Castellano is not a bad second option.
ON VALUE(12-1, Jy. Jose Lezcano; Tr. William Mott. Sire:
Value Plus. Broodmare Sire: Orientate.
Career: 4-3-0-0, $82,800). Began his career with three consecutive
wins. His last race was his first attempt
beyond 5 ½ furlongs, going 7 furlongs in the mud, and finishing a nondescript
sixth. Acquires a new jockey. Just might be long on value.
MANDATE(5-2, Jy. Jose Ortiz; Tr. D Wayne Lukas.
Sire: Tiznow. Broodmare Sire: Deputy Minister. Career:
3-2-0-0, $230,400). Acquired
the label of favorite in this race after romping to victory by 9 ¾ lengths in
the Hopeful Stakes(Grade I) at seven furlongs in the mud. He’s riding a two race win streak after
losing his first race. Retains the
services of Jose Ortiz.
ARRIVAL(8-1, Jy. Rosie Napravnik; Tr. Nick Zito. Sire:
Harlan’s Holiday. Broodmare
Sire: Grindstone. Career:
2-1-0-1, $56,000). Last race
was his maiden victory in the slop going 7 furlons. Keeps Napravnik in the irons. Zito has been absent from the Triple Crown
trail. Maybe this one will mark his
HOLIDAY(12-1, Jy. Christopher DeCarlo; Tr. Todd Pletcher. Sire:
Harlan’s Holiday. Broodmare
Sire: Unbridled’s Song. Career:
2-1-0-0, $24,400). This colt
is cross-entered in the Dixiana at Keeneland, where he’s drawn the inside post
position. Pletcher has assigned regular
rider DeCarlo the mount. Won his last
race, which was his maiden, going a mile.
I tend to believe that he might opt for the other race, and scratch out
of this one, based on better post position draw.
This seems to be a very competitive field, with the horses
being lightly-raced. Strong Mandate might be the favorite,
but I will surmise that the last race was his race, because he has an affinity
for the off-going. Based on the Track
Equalization Chart, I will side with (2)Ride
On Curlin, who was beaten in his last race at Churchill Downs by a mere 2 ¼
lengths going 1 1/16 in the Iroquois Stakes as the favorite. The fact that he went over a mile, and the
numbers he produced in the previous race, indicate that if he can run back to
the Ellis Park race, this could be his race, at the hefty odds of 12-1. Other horses that are coming into this race
with good numbers are one-time runners,(3) Havana
and (5)Honor Code. So, the play will be $5 exacta box 2-3-5;
$10WPS on #2, and a $10 Daily Double beginning with the previous race(Frizette
Stakes) 1(Sweet Reason) with 2-3-5.
As Harvey Pack always used to say, may the horse be with