Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will send out half of the field in Saturday’s $500,000 Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park.
Pletcher sends out the second choice Wit (2-1), third choice My Prankster (5-2) and Commandperformance (10-1) as he seeks his seventh win in the Champagne.
The race is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race with the winner stamping a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Del Mar on Nov. 5. In addition the race is also a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race.
Wit stumbled coming out of the gate in the Hopeful (G1) and had to settle for the runner up spot behind the Steve Asmussen trained Gunite (4-1) in his last outing. He won the Sanford (G3) by eight lengths in his previous start.
“He’s got learning experience in all three of his races,” Pletcher said. “He’s gotten well-accustomed to getting some dirt in his face and dealing with some traffic. We’re just hoping for a cleaner start. We tried to break well in his last race, he just grabbed himself a little bit and had to play catch up from there. The track wasn’t kind to closers as well.”
2021 Hopeful Replay
His stablemate My Prankster broke his maiden in his debut by 10 lengths at Saratoga on Aug. 21 and looks like he won’t mind the stretch out to today’s one turn mile.
The Chad Brown trained Jack Christopher is the 9-5 morning line favorite. The colt broke his maiden by 8 ¾ lengths in his debut at Saratoga on Aug. 28.
“The way he’s training I don’t think he’ll have any difficulty getting the mile,” Brown said. “But it looks like it’s shaping up to be a really strong field of horses with experience and some other horses that broke their maiden and look good. He was certainly one of the more impressive maiden breakers at Saratoga, I would say.”
The Champagne is one of four stakes on Saturday’s card at Belmont Park. The others are the $200,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational (G3), $200,000 Miss Grillo (G2) and the $500,000 Woodward (G1).
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Belmont Park Race 8 The Champagne G1 4:40 ET
1 Wit 2-1
2 My Prankster 5-2
3 Jack Christopher 9-5
5 Gunite 4-1
This colt is one of the three sent out by Pletcher. The colt won his first two starts by a combined 14 lengths, breaking his maiden by six and then winning the Sanford (G3) at Saratoga by eight. Last out as the favorite in the Hopeful (G1) the colt stumbled badly coming out of the gate. The colt was last in the early going, made a good middle move coming up the inside to grab second but by them Gunite and drawn away. Our top pick was clearly second, three lengths clear of the rest of the field. The $575,000 Keeneland purchase is by Practical Joke (winner of this race in 2016) out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare that has dropped three other winners including stakes winner Barkley ($368,425) who was best going long. Pletcher has won this race six times and this colt looks primed for a top effort here. The barn is 24% winners moving runners from sprint to route.
Also sent out by Pletcher, this colt earned a solid number breaking his maiden in his debut where he drew away to win by 10 lengths at Saratoga going 6 ½ furlongs. The runner up and third place finisher both came back to run good seconds in their next starts while the fourth-place finisher Cogburn was a next out grad on Sept. 16 at Churchill Downs with an 82 Beyer. The $600,000 purchase is by Into Mischief out of the multiple stakes winner My Wandy’s Girl ($638,710). He is bred to handle more ground and it would be no surprise to see this guy move forward off his promising debut effort.
This Brown trainee matched our second choice with the top last out speed fig in the field. The colt earned in in a sharp maiden score in his debut going six furlongs at Saratoga. The colt pressed the early pace, took command and drew away to win by 8 ¾ lengths at 6-5. Two have come out of that race to run back, the runner up Hoist the Gold a next out graduate at Churchill Downs on Sept. 25 thanks to a DQ. On the same day, the fourth-place finisher Back to Normal came back to run third in his next outing in a different race on the card. This colt is by Munnings out of a Half Ours mare. Brown won this race in 2016 with Practical Joke and in 2018 with Complexity and is 23% winners moving runners from sprint to route. He looks like a threat but his price may end up on the light side.
WIN: Wit to win at 9-5 or better.
EXACTA: 1 / 2,3,5