If there’s a stakes that’s appropriately named in New York, it’s the Champagne Stakes. A win in this stakes for 2-year-olds is definitely worthy of a champagne toast, considering it carries a value of $500,000 and will net the winner Grade 1 status plus a free spot in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance through the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series.
It will also etch the victor’s name alongside some legendary stars such as Seattle Slew, Alydar, Spectacular Bid, Easy Goer, Riva Ridge, and Buckpasser. Cheers!!
1. Wit (2-1 morning-line odds): His penchant for breaking slowly finally caught up with him in the Hopeful Stakes. Sent off as the heavy 3-5 favorite, he was ninth early on after a stumbling start and settled for second, nearly six lengths behind the victorious 11-1 shot Gunite. He’s yet to run on a fast track and a clean start will definitely help him, but the way he lost ground in the final furlong of the Hopeful is concerning.
JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr.; TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
2. My Prankster (5-2): He was a highly impressive debut winner for Todd Pletcher, scoring by 10 lengths at Saratoga in a fast time. He’s well-bred for the distance and should be able to work out a great trip while sitting just off the pace. He figures to be a major factor here.
JOCKEY: Luis Saez; TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
3. Jack Christopher (9-5): Another dazzling first-out winner, he captured his Spa debut by nearly nine lengths. He’s worked brilliantly since then and seems ready for another big effort here.
JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz; TRAINER: Chad Brown
4. Kavod (50-1): He’s run as many times as Wit, My Prankster, and Jack Christopher combined, but that’s not necessarily a good thing in this type of race for young, promising horses. He didn’t care for turf last time and lost by 15 lengths prior to that in a dirt stakes. Even with blinkers added, it’s hard to imagine him upsetting this field.
JOCKEY: Charles Roberts; TRAINER: James Chapman
5. Gunite (4-1): A son of the hot first-year sire Gun Runner, he’s improved with each start, culminating with a decisive victory in the Hopeful. He’s well-seasoned and if he can continue to take a step forward, he’ll be very hard to beat here.
JOCKEY: Ricardo Santana Jr.; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
6. Commandperformance (10-1): He’s Pletcher’s third starter in a field of six and definitely looks like the weak link. He closed nicely in his debut to finish second and might appreciate the added distance, but he looks to be a bit slower than the top contenders.
JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione; TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
THE PICK: Gunite
LIVE LONGSHOT: Commandperformance