Belmont Park - Trainer Chad Brown will look to earn his second win in three years in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne Stakes for juveniles on Saturday at Belmont Park when he sends out Aurelius Maximus and Complexity as part of the talented 10-horse field for the one-mile race on the main track.
One of four Grade 1 races as part of the October Festival of Racing from October 6-7, the 147th running of the Champagne is a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile on November 2 at Churchill Downs, the richest 2-year-old race in North America.
The Champagne counts a litany of all-time greats among its victors, including Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Count Fleet, as well as Hall of Famers Alydar, Spectacular Bid, Easy Goer, Riva Ridge and Buckpasser among others. A part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series, the Champagne awards the top-four finishers with a points distribution of 10-4-2-1 towards the 2019 Run for the Roses.
2018 Champagne Stakes Odds & Entries
Race 10 on Belmont Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 5:35 PM
|2||Trophy Chaser||10-1||Junior Alvarado
|3||Achilles Warrior||15-1||Dylan Davis
|5||Call Paul||4-1||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|7||Successful Zip||20-1||Manuel Franco
|8||Code of Honor||6-1||Eric Cancel
|Claude McGaughey III|
|9||Aurelius Maximus||6-1||Joel Rosario
|10||Casa Creed||30-1||David Cohen
Klaravich Stables' Complexity will look to improve to 2-for-2 after an impressive 4 ½-length victory in his debut on September 3 at Saratoga Race Course on the undercard for the Grade 1 Hopeful. Brown said expectations are high for the Maclean's Music colt, who was purchased for $375,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Complexity has worked twice over Belmont's Big Sandy, including a four-furlong breeze in 47.89 seconds Sunday in company with Aurelius Maximus, who is also entering his graded stakes debut off a victory following a 7 ¾-length score on September 9 at Belmont at the Champagne distance.
"They both trained well together and they are ready for the Champagne," said Brown, who won the 2016 Champagne with Practical Joke. "They both seem to be training well on the main track. They both seem like they are top-quality, so I'm confident in both them."
Complexity will have jockey Jose Ortiz ride from post 4.
Aurelius Maximus, a son of Pioneer of the Nile, broke his maiden at second asking following a third-place finish on July 28 at Saratoga in his first start. Owned by Stonestreet Stables, Gregory Bolton and Peter Leidel, the Kentucky-bred is the only horse in the field to have already registered a win at Belmont.
Joel Rosario, aboard for his win last out, will have the return call from post 9.
L R E Racing's Casa Creed will stretch out in distance after winning at seven furlongs on August 4 at Saratoga in a race moved off the turf. Following a sixth-place finish in his debut July 28 on the same track in which he was caught wide on the backstretch before improving his position in the stretch.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said Casa Creed, a son of Jimmy Creed, looked comfortable in his first work at Belmont Sunday, when he breezed four furlongs in 48.55 seconds.
"His disposition seems like it'll allow him to get a mile. He's just very kind and manageable," Mott said. "It doesn't mean he'll do it, but it gives me the indication that it will certainly be doable."
Jockey David Cohen will pick up the mount from post 10.
Call Paul is the field's lone graded stakes winner, wiring the field as the favorite to win the Grade 2 Saratoga Special on August 12 for trainer Jason Servis. Owned by Michael Dubb, David Simon, Bruce Irom and Bethlehem Stables, Call Paul will look to go 3-for-3 and will again have Irad Ortiz, Jr., who piloted the Friesan Fire colt to the stakes win, in the irons in breaking from post 5.
Code of Honor won his debut on August 18 at Saratoga, posting a gate-to-wire 1 1/2-length win on a fast main track at six furlongs. Hall of Fame conditioner Shug McGaughey said his recent work at Belmont has given him confidence he can handle the step up in distance and class.
"He came out of his race great and has been training really well since then," McGaughey said. "I think getting him stretched out will help him even more."
Eric Cancel will ride from post 8.
Successful Zip finished second by 1 ½ lengths to Unionizer in the Sapling at one mile on September 1 at Monmouth Park and will make his first graded stakes appearance in his Belmont debut for trainer Miguel Vera. Manny Franco will have the assignment from post 7.
Reddam Racing's Listing wasted no time making a splash, winning a stakes in his first start, rallying for a 1 ¼-length win in the I'm Smokin on August 31 at Del Mar. The Ben Cecil trainee will ship from his base in Santa Anita, drawing post 6 with regular jockey Mario Gutierrez also making the trek east.
Rounding out the field are three contenders making their respective stakes debut in Endorsed, Trophy Chaser, and Achilles Warrior, who drew posts 1-through-3.
Endorsed aims to impress in first stakes start in G1 Champagne
Godolphin's Endorsed, coming off a victory by a neck in his debut on August 18 at Saratoga Race Course, will make both his Belmont Park and stakes debuts on Saturday in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne for 2-year-olds.
The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee breezed twice on Belmont's Big Sandy in September after arriving from Saratoga and will take aim at the one-turn mile with a spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on the line.
"He's doing great and everything is in good shape," McLaughlin said on Friday morning. "He looked good today and he's ready to go tomorrow. Everything is in good shape."
The Medaglia d'Oro colt drew the rail in the 10-horse Champagne field and is 7-2 on the morning line. McLaughlin said he is ready to see how Endorsed handles the increased competition level after earning an 89 Beyer Speed Figure in his win over six furlongs on a wet Saratoga main track.
"His work here was very fast and quick," McLaughlin said. "He's stepping up from a maiden race, but so are a lot of them. It's a quality group of colts and we just hope that we get lucky. It's a very important race."
Endorsed won from post 4 in a nine-horse field at Saratoga but will be breaking from the inside with jockey Joe Bravo in the irons on Saturday.
"It's not my ideal spot, but he's done everything right. It's not a big deal," McLaughlin said. "It seems like the [inside] has been good at Belmont this meet, so it might be the best place to be. But you never know. I think there's a lot of pace in this race, so he might be laying just off of them. You don't know. We'll let Joe Bravo figure out where he wants to be."
Shadwell Stable's Qurbaan will also help make Saturday a busy one for McLaughlin, with the 5-year-old Speightstown horse set to compete in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Mile.
Qurbaan shipped in from Saratoga, where he breezed five furlongs on September 21 on the Oklahoma turf track before putting in his latest work at the Greentree Training Center on September 28. Qurbaan will be making his first start since winning the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch on September 3 at the Spa.
"We were thrilled with his Bernard Baruch and he came out of it in great shape," McLaughlin said. "We're excited about it. It rained hard there last night, so the [turf] might be soft. But it would be huge to win that race."
Peter Deutsch's Take Charge Paula came out of her sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks on September 22 in good order but was undecided on the next spot for the 3-year-old daughter of Take Charge Indy.
Before running at Charles Town, Take Charge Paula ran third in the Jersey Girl on June 10 at Belmont and followed with a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Victory Ride on the same track July 8.
"She came out of it in good shape," McLaughlin said about her last race. "She didn't run that great but we're not sure what we are going to do next with her at the moment."
Listing looks to step up in one-turn mile in G1 Champagne
Reddam Racing's Listing continues to settle in well at Belmont as he prepares for his graded stakes debut in Saturday's Grade 1 Champagne for juveniles, trainer Ben Cecil said Friday morning.
Listing made an impression in his debut, posting a 1 ¼-length win in the six-furlong I'm Smokin on August 31 at Del Mar. Cecil said the Square Eddie colt shipped in well to Belmont from California as he readies for the 147th running of the Champagne, a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on November 2 at Churchill Downs.
"He's always been mature for his age, that's why we ran him in a stakes the first time out," Cecil said. "He handled it better than I could have hoped. But he's flown before. He was in Florida getting ready for 2-year-old sales but we scratched him out of those and kept him. He's a pretty smart horse."
Not selling the California-bred could lead to big things. Listing will take aim at the one-turn mile, which his conditioner said better suits his skill set.
"We wanted to take a shot with him," Cecil said. "It was a choice between coming here or Kentucky, and I preferred the one turn for now. I think going from six [furlongs] to two turns is probably a little too much, so that's why we chose this race."
Listing drew post 6 in the 10-horse field. At 15-1 on the morning line, he will be ridden by Mario Gutierrez.
"He drew the rail the first time out, which can be the toughest place you can be, and he handled it very well," Cecil said. "He has some speed, but I don't expect him to be on the lead. I think he'll be a bit off the pace."
The Champagne has seen some of racing's all-time greats earn a trip to the winner's circle, including Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Count Fleet, as well as Hall of Famers Alydar, Spectacular Bid, Easy Goer, Riva Ridge and Buckpasser among others. A part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series, the Champagne awards the top-four finishers with a points distribution of 10-4-2-1 towards the 2019 Run for the Roses.
"The hardest thing with all these 2-year-olds is that we don't know how good they are, but this time of year, it's hard to say," Cecil said. "It's time to test them out a little bit. It's a very prestigious race and it would be nice to do well in it. We're one race at a time, but he's done nothing wrong so far. This is a test to see where we fit. We can always go back down after, if we need to."
Cecil has registered 41 graded stakes wins since earning his first with Sandtrip in 1996 and is looking for his first career graded stakes victory at a NYRA track.