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2013 Breeders' Cup Juvenile: Champagne vs. Futurity


There’s a reason certain stakes races are chosen for the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Challenge. When it comes to the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park and the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland there’s only one reason that if you win, you’re in; they produce Juvenile champions.


As we approach the 30th anniversary of the Breeders’ Cup this November, it’s important that we recognize just how significant these races have been to the Juvenile division. Specifically, let’s permit the stats to do the talking; 13 of the previous 29 winners stopped here last.  


Now that’s what I call a serious Juvenile prep. And since the Champagne and Futurity deserve the credit, and by all means our attention on Saturday, let me ask the Nation a very important question. Which do you prefer or favor?


Need some help? No problem, let’s compare.


We begin with the score. After Shanghai Bobby stole the show at Santa Anita in 2012 the Champagne Stakes extended its lead over the Futurity by a count of 8 to 5. Another lead the Champagne took was in the “what have you done for me lately” category. Due to the Champagne’s dominance over the last seven years there’s no question who’s hot versus who’s not. Prior to 2006 the score was even at 5 a piece but now the Champagne holds a 3 point advantage.


2006   Street Sense           Futurity         3rd

2007   War Pass                Champagne    1st

2010   Uncle Mo                 Champagne    1st

2013   Shanghai Bobby      Champagne    1st


So, the Champagne stakes is on a roll. But, the Breeders’ Futurity has also enjoyed a period of superiority itself. In 1995 Unbridled’s Song used the Champagne to gear up for a big day at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The win made it two Champagne starters in a row as Unbridled’s Song followed Timber Country the previous year.


At this time the Breeder’s Futurity had fallen behind but they came back strong over the course of the next three years. It all began when Boston Harbor continued his Juvenile dominance by winning both the Futurity and the Juvenile. Repeating the achievement was Favorite Trick and jockey Pat Day in 1997. Although Answer Lively would not make it a total three peat, he did complete the hat trick by becoming the third consecutive Breeders’ Futurity starter to win the Juvenile.


1994   Timber Country        Champagne    1st

1995   Unbridled’s Song     Champagne    4th

1996   Boston Harbor          Futurity         1st

1997   Favorite Trick           Futurity         1st

1998   Answer Lively           Futurity         2nd


Three in a row is pretty impressive but in case you didn’t know, it had been done already. In 1988 a legendary colt named Easy Goer did what he did best at Belmont Park. But, it was the horse that finished 2nd that would go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Is It True capped off 3 consecutive wins for Trainer D. Wayne Lukas as it also became the first ever race to produce three consecutive Juvenile winners. Following Is It True would be Rhythm and Fly So Free.


1988   Is It True        Champagne    2nd

1989   Rhythm          Champagne    2nd  

1990   Fly So Free   Champagne    1st  


Finally, there’s the question of who was first. That honor goes to the Breeders’ Futurity and the second Juvenile champion Tasso in 1985.


1985   Tasso            Futurity         1st


And that’s where it all began for these two races. But, where will it lead in 2013?


Basing it on this year’s entries, I again give the advantage to the Champagne Stakes. First we have to begin with the ML favorite, Strong Mandate, a horse that no Futurity entry can compare to. Just to give you an idea of how the D. Wayne Lukas horse is regarded look at the morning line odds. Strong Mandate is your 5/2 favorite while the horse that finished 2nd and over 9 lengths back in the G1 Hopeful is 20-1.


And then there’s Debt Ceiling and Honor Code. While I think Debt Ceiling has the edge due to his Graded Stakes win in the G3 Bashford Manor, I can understand why some may be so high on Honor Code despite the fact that he has yet to race in a graded stakes.


When it comes to Juveniles it’s not always about whether or not you have entered a graded stakes race. Both Havana and Grand Arrival have lower ML odds than Debt Ceiling and that’s because they may be better but haven’t been given the chance to prove it.


And those types of Juveniles make up the majority of the field in the Breeders’ Futurity. It’s going to be a full house, 14 starters, and all will be looking to make their mark on the Juvenile prep season. As far as the horse that stands out to me compared to the Champagne field thus far it's Solitary Ranger, winner of the G3 Arlington Washington Futurity.


While I don’t mean to ignore the potential of contenders like We Miss Artie, Tiznowforamerica, Conquest Titan, Rum Point or Kendall’s Boy I’m having a hard time giving the Breeders’ Futurity the advantage. In fact, I truly believe the Champagne Stakes has an overwhelming chance of producing the next Juvenile winner when compared to the Futurity.


Therefore, as much as I love thoroughbred racing in the Bluegrass State and that I do consider Street Sense to be the best Juvenile winner that ever came from the Champagne or Futurity, I have to give the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park the clear advantage right now. It scores big with its recent success, racing on dirt doesn’t hurt and the 2013 field has a much stronger crop of Juveniles.  


So, the Champagne Stakes is my winner. How about you? 


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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer – Chicago, IL


Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park, Henderson, KY. 


In the spring of 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance and the tradition continues because there is no other city in the racing world like Louisville, KY on Derby Day. 


Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, a champions trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. The coverage begins when Juvenile season starts and continues until the field is set, the picks are in and the roses are awarded. 



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