The Champagne Stakes is must-see TV as six quality juveniles battle for their chance in the spotlight.
The Grade I feature has been the springboard for many champions, so the 2-year-old event will attract plenty of interest, and it’s worth a handy $500,000.
A spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is also up for grabs, so online gambling markets are keeping an eye on the Champagne Stakes.
Debuts Don’t Get Much Better
We love seeing an empathic debut performance, and that’s what Chad Brown’s Jack Christopher achieved at Saratoga.
The son of Munnings scored by nine lengths in a dominant performance, and although there are questions about the opposition, he never gave them a look-in.
Brown was quick to note that it was just one run, but he has had similar success with his promising juveniles in the Champagne.
“Just off one race, he’s going to have to take another step forward, but he was so brilliant with his debut,” Brown told The Paulick Report. “We’ve had horses have success here before doing that – Complexity comes to mind. Off just one race he ran very well in the Champagne and won.”
— NYRA (🌳) (@TheNYRA) September 29, 2021
Bettors could be worried about the rise in distance, but Brown ran the scintillating colt over five furlongs in a minute flat last month, so there are no worries.
“The way he’s training I don’t think he’ll have any difficulty getting the mile,” Brown said. “But it looks like it’s shaping up to be a really strong field of horses with experience and some other horses that broke their maiden and look good.”
Confidently backing a runner with only one win under his belt is tough, but bettors get value odds for Jack Christopher, and he could be the next star to come out of the Brown stables.
Gunite Demands Respect
Coming into the Champagne Stakes with a Grade I win already under your belt is a luxury not many juveniles have.
Gunite won the Grade I Hopeful Stakes when beating Wit last start, so not only was it a good winning performance, he also defeated a 2-1 chance in the Champagne.
The son of Gun Runner has had plenty of experience with five starts for two wins and three placings, which could count for plenty on Saturday. Experience shouldn’t be overlooked at the juvenile level, especially top-level experience.
“He’ll be the horse in the field with the most experience so hopefully that does him well,” said Winchell Thoroughbreds racing and bloodstock advisor David Fiske.
“Typically, horses that come out of Steve’s parents training center in Laredo tend to break well from the gate. Facing all that adversity, that’s something some of the other ones haven’t faced. Hopefully, he’s learned something from all of it.”
The team has every right to be confident with Gunite, who is paying a healthy 4-1 with horse racing betting sites.
Will Wit Turn the Tables?
Wit hasn’t shown much speed from the barriers and it caught up with him in the Hopeful Stakes.
The Todd Pletcher-trained colt was slow away as the odds-on favorite and recovered to finish second behind Gunite, but more was expected.
WIT, winner of 2 of 3, including the G3 Sanford, had a lousy start in the Hopeful 9/6. With Irad Ortiz up, the @PletcherRacing colt raced well to be second to GUNITE.
— Barbara Livingston (@DRFLivingston) September 29, 2021
If Pletcher has worked out his barrier manners, Wit could mature into a more-than-handy juvenile. His maiden win at Belmont was tidy, and he followed it with a win in the Grade III Sanford Stakes.
His lack of experience on a fast track is another concern, but we think it will help him. He has a nice action, so if he’s back to his best, he could cause a minor upset.