Elmont--Its amazing what one race will do for your reputation. And what another can do to tarnish it.

Majestic Warrior became a star at Saratoga, the product of an upset score in the Grade 1 Hopeful. Even with Readys Image in position to atone for that defeat, it was no surprise when Bill Motts colt was sent off a clear public choice in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes.

But Belmont Park is not Saratoga and the Champagne was not a four-horse field in which your main rival did all the work but where you got the money.

So, Garrett Gomez and Eibar Coa on the top choices kept eyes on each other. No one noticed that Cornelio Velasquez had stolen away on a loose lead with War Pass.

Yes, splits of :22.87 and :45.72 are daunting, even in top company. But loose is as loose does.

I have to give Cornelio a lot of credit, said winning trainer Nick Zito, [The colt] has blazing speed and I was very glad to see him do what he did.

Which was leave Majestic Warrior in his wake, sixth, and Readys Image, who finished last of eight. The performance of the two choices were as stunning as the dominance War Pass showed during the race.

No one should really be surprised by the result. War Pass, now undefeated in three starts, overcame a tardy break to win his debut at Saratoga then returned to dominate a preliminary allowance group by nearly six lengths.

And theres another reason: Zito has made a habit of winning the Champagne. Saturday was his fifth, a stunning achievement. His most recent Champagne winner before Saturday eventually went on to win the Belmont Stakes the following year. Unfortunately for Smarty Jones, Birdstone really liked Belmont Park.

War Pass, who earned an automatic Juvenile berth, will return to Saratoga, train up to the Breeders Cup at the Oklahoma track and van to Monmouth sometime during that week. Runner-up Pyro, also prepared at Oklahoma, finished very strongly late for place. It was the kind of effort that should augur well in three weeks.

We always thought that this was a quality colt thats why I came here to ride him, said Shaun Bridgmohan, who probably would ride anywhere regular patron Steve Asmussen asks him to go.

The winner of the Frizette doesnt gain automatic entrance into the Juvenile Fillies, but try to keep the undefeated Indian Blessing out of it. Not many Grade 1 winners pass up that chance and her early speed should play nicely on the Monmouth strip.

She semi-rated, said Bob Baffert, in way of explaining his fillys trip. Shes very fast and had been training easy. But you never know about the [added] distance until they do it. It looked like Garrett [Gomez] was shutting her down in the stretch, and it made us a little nervous when the crowd began to get excited.

Shut down or not, speed favoring Monmouth or not, final quarter-miles of :27.24 are not going to get it done. She did have an eight length lead with two furlongs remaining but it appeared to us Gomez was riding her to the finish.

The effort of place finisher Backstreet Rhythm was promising in that she was going in the right direction at the wire. A maiden winner on turf at this meet, she switched surfaces for her prep because trainer Pat Reynolds wanted to run her long and there was nothing for her on the dirt.

We went into this hoping shed run well and go on to the Breeders Cup, said Reynolds.

Mission accomplished.

Sunday Holiday finished best of all for third--and that was following a poor start and rally-wide trip into the stretch. It was a good effort and the Breeders Cup is a possibility, said Bill Mott.

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War Pass is not the only undefeated colt moving on to the Breeders Cup off yesterdays prep schedule.

Taking advantage of his preference for Polytrack, Wicked Style parlayed two victories at Arlington Park into a dominating open-lengths victory in the Lanes End Breeders Futurity at Keeneland over Slews Tiznow and Old Man Buck.

The 1-1/16 miles was run in 1:45.21. What that means on Polytrack Im not sure. Well wait for Mr. Fotias to do the math. Visually, however, Rusty Arnolds colt looks like a very promising individual.

Maiden Country Star won the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades for juvenile fillies on Keenelands opening day. Bobby Frankel used a turf prep for the transition to Polytrack and it worked to perfection. The Frank Stronach-owned filly will make her presence felt on Oct,. 27.