“He’s a good horse,” said Frankel of Vineyard Haven, one of only two horses in the eight-horse field to have a trouble-free trip en route to his front-running, 2 ¼-length victory. “I hope he’s a very good horse.”
The Champagne, at a mile, is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge, with the victor earning an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park on October 25. Its sister race, the Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette, which will be run for the 61st time Saturday, also offers its winner a trip to the left coast for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on October 24. Rounding out the card is the 59th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Jamaica Handicap for three-year-olds at nine furlongs on the turf.
The colt who left perhaps the most indelible impression in the Hopeful was Cribnote. The New York-bred son of Smoke Glacken was making a move on the turn when he suddenly bore out, winding up in the middle of the racetrack and completely losing his momentum – or so it seemed, as somehow, jockey Rajiv Maragh was able to kick-start the colt to rally on the far outside to finish second.
“If we can get him to run forward as fast as he ran sideways, he’ll be fine,” said trainer Rick Violette, who will be equipping Cribnote with blinkers for the Champagne. “We hopefully can chalk it up to a bizarre experience. I really am trying not to overreact – but we are very aware of it.”
Munnings, the Hopeful favorite who lunged at the start and then stumbled, but rallied to finish third, two lengths back, will also be trying to make amends in the Champagne. The $1.7 million son of Speightstown has been working steadily at Belmont Park since his last start, including an impressive move Tuesday of 47.82 on the training track, the sixth fastest of 119 at the distance.
“He’s trained very well since the Hopeful,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “He did not get away well in that race, which we feel compromised his chances. We’re looking forward to running him in the Champagne.”
Somewhat overlooked in the fray was Break Water Edison, who, had he won, would have given trainer John Kimmel an astounding 8-for-8 run the final week at the Spa. As it was, the son of Lemon Drop Kid broke poorly from the No. 1 post, bumping hard with Desert Party, was rushed up to duel with Vineyard Haven through a contentious pace scenario along an unfavorable part of the track, and wound up fourth, a half-length behind Munnings.
“The horse was working hard and not going anywhere,” said Kimmel. “He really did not run up to his potential. After his performance in the Saratoga Special, when he was a length and a quarter behind (Run Away and Hide), two ticks off the track record, I wouldn’t have traded places with anyone. I think that race was a good barometer of what kind of a horse he can be.”
Aboard Break Water Edison for the first time will be Richard Migliore, who has breezed the colt twice since the Hopeful, including Tuesday’s move of 49.63 in company with Freedom Bay.
“Break Water Edison just toyed with him, and the three-year-old ran a 103 in his last race,” said Kimmel. “Now he needs to put it together in the afternoon like he does in the mornings.”
For the most part, the fillies heading into the Frizette, which also will be run at a mile, had far smoother experiences at Saratoga than the colts. Still, trainer Mark Hennig is glad to be back at Belmont Park with Collegiate, who broke her maiden here on June 19, then travelled upstate to finish fourth behind Jardin in the Grade 3 Schuylerville and third in the Grade 1 Spinaway to Mani Bhaven.
“She was lugging out last time so we will be putting blinkers on,” said Hennig of the Team Valor filly, a daughter of Saarland who will be ridden by Edgar Prado. “I’m looking forward to running her. A lot of the babies have trouble with the turns at Saratoga, and she’s a big filly. The change of track, and the wide, sweeping turns here, should help her.”
The late-running Persistently, who rallied from last to finish two lengths behind Doremifasolatido in the Grade 2 Matron here on Sept. 13 under jockey Alan Garcia, is one who should appreciate the added distance of the Frizette.
Tom Albertrani will be saddling a pair of Darley Stable fillies who broke their maidens on the same day -- Royal Ballade, a 6 ¾-length winner in the second race on Sept. 14, and Gemswick Park, a 6 ½-length winner in an off-the-turf event three races later. Royal Ballade will be ridden by Eibar Coa while Gemswick Park will have the services of John Velazquez.
The Field for the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes
PP Horse Jockey Trainer
1 Break Water Edison Richard Migliore John Kimmel
2 Cribnote Rajiv Maragh Rick Violette
3 Vineyard Haven Edgar Prado Bobby Frankel
4 Hello Broadway Eibar Coa Barclay Tagg
5 Girolamo Alan Garcia Kiaran McLaughlin
6 A. P. Cardinal Channing Hill Cam Gambolati
7 Ventana Victor Espinoza Bob Baffert
8 Brave Victory Jeffrey Sanchez Nick Zito
9 Gone Astray Ramon Dominguez Shug McGaughey
10 Munnings John Velazquez Todd Pletcher
Cribnote will race with blinkers.
All starters will carry 122 pounds.
The Field for the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes
PP Horse Jockey Trainer
1 Sky Diva Ramon Dominguez Steve Klesaris
2 Royal Ballade Eibar Coa Tom Albertrani
3 War Echo Channing Hill Steve Asmussen
4 Miss Ocean City Rajiv Maragh Nick Zito
5 Persistently Alan Garcia Shug McGaughey
6 Collegiate Edgar Prado Mark Hennig
7 Winning Brew Jose Espinoza Francis Vitale
8 Coffee in Bed Eddie Castro Kelly Breen
9 Heavenly Vision Victor Espinoza Bob Baffert
10 Gemswick Park John Velazquez Tom Albertrani
Collegiate and Winning Brew will race with blinkers.
All starters will carry 120 pounds.