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Trainer Chad Brown and jockey Jose Ortiz know what it is to use the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes as a springboard to success in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
It was only last year that they enjoyed a magical ride together when Good Magic, after running second in the Champagne, went on to become the first maiden to capture the Juvenile since the inaugural running of that race in 1984.
Now, they may be knocking at the door again with Complexity, who made it look easy when he rolled on the front end and easily turned back Code of Honor by three lengths on Saturday at Belmont Park. Call Paul finished third.
Complexity is supposed to have distance limitations due to his pedigree. But the son of Maclean’s Music exceeded expectations in blazing the one-turn mile in 1:34.63 and winning for the second time in as many starts.
“He’s just so strong. He’s an outstanding talent,” Brown said. “His pedigree may not limit how far he can go. He’s a rare horse, an exceptional horse.”
Ortiz was equally enthusiastic.
“He’s a very nice horse. He broke on top and went right to the lead and he went fast and easy.”
Complexity carved out fractions of 22.51 seconds for the opening quarter of a mile, 45.31 seconds for half a mile. He went three-quarters of a mile in a crisp 1:09.40.
“Everybody says he’s bred to be a sprinter,” Ortiz noted. “He can go a mile.”
Ortiz thinks the colt, bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings and purchased by Klaravich Stables for $375,000 as a yearling at Keeneland’s September sale in 2017, makes up for lack of size with an unusual level of maturity.
“This one, he’s a very smart horse,” the jockey said. “I turned loose from the [lead] pony and he was just galloping. He didn’t pull at all. He was all business.”
Complexity had overcome a sluggish start to win his debut by 4 ¼ lengths in a six-furlong race on Sept. 3 at Saratoga Race Course. Ortiz noted that he worked closely with the youngster for much of the summer.
“It makes it extra special when you have been working with a horse,” he said.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey was delighted with Code of Honor’s runner-up finish.
“I thought for a 2-year-old he ran a great race,” McGaughey said. “He stumbled so bad at the start, so for him to be back where he was, eat dirt, and then to make that big, run wide, so I’m pleased with the effort.”
Ortiz is excited to go on with Complexity to the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile, on Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs. The 147th edition of the Champagne carried a fees-paid berth in that race as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series. He is not so sure what the future holds after that.
“I think he can go a mile and a sixteenth,” he said, “but that’s probably as far as he wants to go.”
$400,000 Beldame Invitational Stakes: Wow Cat, 8-for-8 last year as a 3-year-old in Chile, broke through for her first victory in the United States for Brown and Ortiz. She had missed by a neck in the Grade 3 Shuvee on July 29 at Saratoga and finished third there to Abel Tasman and Elate in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on Aug. 25 in her previous two U.S. starts since coming under Brown’s care.
Brown did not rule out the possibility of going on to the Breeders’ Cup with Wow Cat.
“She might just be coming around and getting climatized over here and really finding her rhythm,” he said.
$500,000 Hill Prince Stakes: Have At It, sent off at 11-1 odds, pulled the upset for his first graded stakes victory in behalf of trainer Christophe Clement and jockey David Cohen. “This is a great win, a Grade 2 with some of the best turf 3-year-olds here in New York,” Clement said. “He belongs in that league, as he proved today.”
$150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational: New York-bred Disco Partner, a length-and-a-quarter winner in this race last year, repeated when he drew clear by 4 ½ lengths for Clement and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.
Clement said he plans to go on to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint “as long as he comes back in good shape.” The 6-year-old son of Disco Rico finished third in the Turf Sprint last November at Del Mar behind Stormy Liberal and Richard’s Boy.