HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Bring on the Champagne!

As October 8th approaches, fans around the nation sit on the edge of their seats waiting to see who will be racing’s next super star of the 2012 glamour division.

Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park has a storied tradition. It is a race that today’s Juveniles use as a stepping stone to becoming tomorrow’s stars. The likes of Seattle Slew, Easy Goer, Alydar, Spectacular Bid, and sooo many more used this race to stamp themselves as potential greats. On Saturday, a field that stars impressive maiden winner Alpha and the Saratoga Special conqueror Union Rags, will be set to try and add their names to the prestigious list of the past greats.

The morning line favorite Union Rags looks to be hard to beat, but the main question many have for him is can he run as well over a fast surface as he can over the Saratoga slop? His maiden race at Delaware Park would suggest that he can, but that was only a maiden. Should he transfer well, there is no doubt he would be one of the favorites, if not the favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Alpha ran an impressive maiden at Saratoga, drawing off to win with authority over his completely overmatched opponents. In preparation, the son of the hottest sire in town, Bernardini, turned in a in an impressive five furlong move in 59.88. As a son of Bernardini, the added distance should not hinder him, but only help. His main dilemma would be the huge class hike. Yes, we saw he can dominated in a field of maidens, but it is never a given that an impressive winner will dominate when dropped into a field of winners.

Speightscity, being a son of Speightstown, would normally have questions regarding the distance of this race, but the impressive colt has already shown he has no problem going a distance when he rolled home by over 11 lengths. In fact, the cut back in distance over a speed favoring track will feel like a walk in the park compared to two turns over the life sucking surface at Saratoga. His problem, again is can he transfer his dominance over when running against winners? He sure looked like he could, but you never know until you try.

Takes the Gold may have lost his first try, but put it all together, getting his first win in his second try over this very track. Having experience over this oval is always a huge plus and lends the horse a huge advantage over those who have not. Also, being owned by top racing stable Jay Em Ess Stable certainly is a bonus. After all, they gave us another monster juvenile, just only a year ago. Anyone remember Boys at Toscanova?

Right to Vote was second first out then first his second time out, and looks to keep the ball rolling. He led that day wire to wire, but after a punishing pace he tired noticeably. Belmont does seem to be slightly more tiring than it typically is, however, with the way he slowed one has to wonder if the son of Political Force can hold on against much better.

Invocation has been thrown into some pretty deep water in this spot. He has yet to even win his maiden, so one would think that asking him to run in a grade one would prove a little too much. In his last start he ran second to Alpha and couldn’t even begin to make a dent that day. Alpha is still an unknown in stakes company, but either way, not being able to keep up with Alpha does not bode well for Invocation.

Power World is the type of horse bettors just keep betting on for no other reason than, he may have won without “enter excuse here.” In four starts he only has one win to his credit. That win was his maiden. He is the perfect example of a maiden who could not project his impressive win into another impressive win against proven winners.

While I like No Spin’s trainer I will have to say no to the horse. He has only one maiden win and then was fourth when stretching out in the Arlington-Washington Futurity. He also has been exclusively raced on Polytrack, a surfaces that is not the kindest to those who perform well over dirt. The top half of his pedigree says turf, and that is probably where he should be.

Lastly is Laurie’s Rocket, who will probably be very much ignored. The top half of his pedigree suggests some turf, but with AP Indy there it screams he will probably get better with more time and distance.  In his lone win, the colt came from farther back on a speed favoring surface. In the Saratoga Special he ran a distant fourth, after contesting the pace. In his only win he came from off the pace. Maybe a change back to those original tactics will result in an improved performance.

As you can tell, this is far from a two horse race. Any one of these youngsters could be improving at the right time to jump up and snag the race from the unsuspecting favorites. Either way, this is one race you won’t want to miss.





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Older Comments about Bring on the Champagne!...

Speightscity gets my vote. I think that win was legit, and I think this race sets up nicely for him. As you pointed out, the cut back will only help. Nice breakdown of the race.
  • warrena · no spin look 30-1 at last race had bad trip...eddie give him a better ride · 2235 days ago
Speight IMO is the horse for Union to watch, not alpha. He ran very big over a very tring and very slow track. For a two year old to run in a race 9f that early is different and good. Could the competition have been weak? Yes, it is a strong possibility. However, if the colt is good enough the 9f foundation he has will give him a big edge over those, like Union Rags who are stretching out.

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track,, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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