Sugar Bowl Showdown in the Big Easy

December 19, 2014 05:52am
Cinco Charlie, winner of the 2014 Bashford Manor
Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography


There’s going to be a showdown.

One is battle tested against top competition. The other is improving and coming off a huge win. No, I’m not talking about Alabama and Ohio St., although I guess I could be. Today’s blog is about a pair of juvenile colts about to throw down on Saturday. Mr. Z and Dortmund? Nope, guess again. I’m talking about Cinco Charlie and Control Stake.

With a purse $50,000, Saturday’s Sugar Bowl Stakes might seem like small potatoes compared to races like the Los Alamitos Futurity, but it has often served as the perfect bridge for excellent horses, ending their juvenile seasons, and staying sharp for the early months of their three-year-old seasons. Recent multiple stakes winners such as Archarcharch, Teuflesberg, and Albano all have successfully ran in the Sugar Bowl before moving on to bigger and better things.

This year’s edition has attracted a field of five, but Cinco Charlie and Control Stake are the two I have my eye on for the future. Let’s start with the upstart.

At 9-5 on the morning line, Control Stake would not exactly be sneaking up on people by gaining his first stakes win on Saturday. Trained by the white-hot Tom Amoss, and to be ridden by the current leader of the meet, James Graham, the bay colt made his stakes debut two starts ago. He could not hold off Golden Actor when 2nd in the two-turn, $200,000 Jean Lafitte Stakes, but the son of Discreetly Mine made a bang when returned to sprinting in his latest effort. Building upon his maiden victory, in which he won by daylight in :56 and change at Indiana Grand, Control Stake absolutely dominated an overmatched field of allowance runners at Fair Grounds on December 4th. He won by 8¼ lengths while being geared down late in 1:10.67 over the same trip as the Sugar Bowl. A repeat effort, or further improvement, makes him a tough beat on Saturday, but Cinco Charlie will not make it easy.

Cinco Charlie has already been there and done that. In seven starts, the son of Indian Charlie has smartly found the winner’s circle four times, including three stakes victories for trainer Steve Asmussen. Most recently, Cinco Charlie outclassed a full field of juveniles in the $100,000 James F. Lewis III Stakes at Laurel Park. That one was not graded, but he previously scored in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs back in June. In between, he accounted himself well in a pair of graded stakes wins at Saratoga, before romping in a stakes race at Delaware Park. Two starts back, Cinco Charlie demonstrated his class by giving the highly regarded Blofeld a tough time in the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont Park, before yielding late for a one-length loss. Robby Albarado will be in the irons on the morning line favorite for the first time on Saturday.

Only one of the two will win Saturday’s Sugar Bowl, but if I’m right, both Cinco Charlie and Control Stake could be top sprinters on the three-year-old landscape in 2015.



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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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