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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
A New York State of Racing

Undefeated Havana Wins the Champagne

The beat continued on for trainer Todd Pletcher in 2013, when 5-2 third choice Havana won the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park by holding off the fast-closing Honor Code..
The win is the third in the last four years for Pletcher in the Champagne. In 2010 he won with Uncle Mo, and last year Shanghai Bobby won the prestigious race, and both went on to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. In total, Pletcher has won this race five times.
The race began with Debt Ceiling  setting the early pace as Havana sat close behind on the inside. Debt Ceiling and Havana stayed in those positions through a half mile in :45.54. In the meantime, 9/5 favorite Honor Code fell far behind in last place.
Moving into the clubhouse turn, Debt Ceiling began to fade and Havana surged to a clear lead on the rail. The first six furlongs went in 1:10.12 and it appeared that Havana was tiring. As jockey Irad Ortiz urged Havana to the wire, Javier Castellano had Honor Code on the move.
Coming down the stretch Honor Code was coming fast in the middle of the track. With each stride it became clear that it was going to be a close finish. At the wire Honor Code had run out of track and Havana held on to win by a head in a final time of 1:35.81. With a victory in this “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, Havana gets a spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
After the race Pletcher talked about Havana’s performance, “Havana was inside with an experienced horse [Debt Ceiling] to his outside through pretty fast fractions. It’s a long way from a 5½ furlong maiden to a grade one with what looked a really really stellar field," said Pletcher. "We are very proud of his effort.”
Honor Code's trainer Shug McGaughey thought they could have won it, "He [Honor Code] was coming off a maiden win in the slop, and he had trained good. I thought he looked good and paddocked well. He wasn't 22 lengths out of it today; it was only 12 or 15. Having to go wide probably cost us the race, but Havana got the jump at the head of the stretch and opened up, and we were unlucky to not catch him. I thought it was an awfully big effort for a horse of his type who is just learning and is kind of lazy in the first part until you do ask him. I think once we get him going around two turns and maybe more races into him he'll get a little more adaptive, into the race. I don't want to change his style of running if that's what he wants to do; I'm hoping he'll do it on his own." 
Strong Mandate was not a factor in the Champagne and after the race trainer D. Wayne Lukas offered excuses, "[Jockey Jose Ortiz] thought he wasn't getting around the track as well as he did at Saratoga. The two local horses looked good. Maybe I should have gotten him here a couple weeks [ago] and put a couple works into him over this deeper surface. It's quite a drastic change from Churchill Downs and Saratoga to this."
Pletcher also looked ahead to Havana’s chances in the Breeders’ Cup, “I think he will improve off of this race and I think Santa Anita at two turns might suit him well. He will train here [Belmont Park] and go to Santa Anita the week of the Breeders’ Cup if all goes well.” 


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Older Comments about Undefeated Havana Wins the Champagne...

Everyone is entitled to their opinion,heck they may be right and this might be another time i am wrong.Somehow i doubt it.
Yes, Sully, precisely. @Tom, Lisa was warning everyone on Sun. P.M. not to discount Havana. Whether one relies heavily on dosage for handicapping or not, as she said, the average is derived from projected abilities at various distances.
Nice post! from your pal, Not Everyone
I laugh that Havana is still considered a distance limited horse by some,Everyone is assuming that a little longer the races go.That H.C. will automatically blow by him.As i said,H.C. has positioned himself at the head of the class of 3yo for the Kentucky Derby Futures. Do not under rate Havana,the same way they did Cross Traffic in the Whitney. Allowed to go off at 9/2 he defeated a quality laden field on the engine.Horses do not run a mile that fast,under constant pressure, and not able to negotiate an additional eigth of a mile with less pressure. When he runs in the longer race,there wiill noit be a sacrificial lamb like Debt Ceiling to push him through those fractions.After what others saw on Saturday, other connections will now respect his speed.The fact Johnny V.will be re-acqaited with him is huge.With the softest hands in the buisiness.He will get him there.Just do not go by the visual in the Champagne.Havana will have something big to say.That is what Superstars like Havana and Honor Code do.They put on tremendous shows.
I see exactly what Brian was saying. One cannot say that if Ride On Curlin was 4 back as opposed to 7, he could not have won that race? One also cannot say that if he was 4 back instead of 7 he would have won that race. He was simply pointing out that not only the top 2 finishers ran a great race, but Ride on Curlin ran a very respectable race. If you consider his best race to date was on the lead, there's no way you can say that if he was closer, he would not have drilled Havana into submission. Folks always taking crap outta context here.
Blabs,do not laugh,has been broached.But i can't afford to take time off from the Posse.Especially with Jay ,running around and showing his badge all the time(LOL)
Original >> Maylan only has 3 rides in the 3 days upcoming. Somebody's got to get out there and hustle her book.>> Matt Millen, out.
however the match up is not known yet
I guess i am like Rudy with cuties horse. I have trouble painting a complete picture.
while the "in theory" ground loss idea is valid, there is no accurate way of portraying one over another
Just never hear it in your Havana/Honor Code analysis.
Amino,if you mean on Champagne day.ABSOLUTELY,inside speed held all day. Why i liked the Frizette and Havana.As long as the right horse wins,never do i mind a souped up track.
Havana ran a really good race- but with that kind of speed- I don't think he will be hanging around come next year with the big boys in longer distance races
Was the track scraped?
True analysis Capper. They both ran incredible races. From a SPEED figure point of view,meaning sheets not Beyers.Where ground loss is incorporated. H.C. will probably of run 1 to 1.5 points lower. But they do not give allowance to the pace.
Tough for me to tell who ran the best race...Havana through the fast fractions, or Honor Code for going so wide. Definitely would rather have Honor Code on the triple crown trail, but unsure about the BC.
As I said above, maybe Brian A. can elaborate further. He is the one who brought up the subject of ROC on this thread.
I do not know what it is with these Curlin breds.The one thing i will say.They do have a tremendous following.Personally,i think R.O.C is a nice horse. I am sure his bloodlines state that he can go longer.Personally,i just do not think he is as good as advertised.In the Champagne,visually his move at the top of the lane ,along with H.C. was very impressive.Be aware that at that time,the rest of the field was mimicking Michael Jackson and his moon walk. When they cleared at the 16th pole.The only 2 horses doing any running were the top 2 finishers. Just knowing some of the bears that have not come out of the woods yet,and the very select 2yos out there now,i really do not see him making much noise down the line.
You're right only he wrote it- but I'm not sure what else ' if he was closer he could have finished closer' means. Unless recently the definition of closer has changed to meaning: far away I'm not sure how else that can be taken
Maybe Brian Appleton will return and explain his remark further. He is the only one who can do that, but his remark as written doesn't convey all that much to me.

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.


Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.


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