The Champagne Stakes (G1) and Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1) highlight Saturday’s racing for 2-year-old Thoroughbreds. The winner of each race will win an automatic berth in the starting gate of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Division at Churchill Downs on November 6.
The coupled entry of Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty head the field of seven as the 1-4 morning line favorite in the $300,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park. Todd Pletcher trains both horses and he previously won the Champagne with Scat Daddy (2006) and Proud Accolade (2004).
Uncle Mo, coming off of an impressive 14 ¼ - length win in his maiden debut, looms large as the horse to beat. Uncle Mo earned a 110 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort and he has been working out good at Belmont. If he repeats that performance, he will be tough to beat.
Uncle Mo is a descendant of the Nasrullah sire line and since 1990 there have been two horses from that line to win the Champagne Stakes: War Pass (2007) and The Groom Is Red (1998).
His sire, Indian Charlie, is known for getting good, speedy middle-distance runners and his damsire, Arch, won the 10-furlong Super Derby.
Indian Charlie’s 2-year-old runners have seven wins in 20 starts for 35 percent.
Stay Thirsty comes into the Champagne with a second-place finish to Boys At Tosconova in the 7-furlong Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. Stay Thirsty has two seconds and one first-place finish in three starts. I look for him to continue to move forward off of his Hopeful Stakes effort.
I really like the pedigree of Stay Thirsty and if he lives up to his breeding, he should get better as the races get longer.
Stay Thirsty is a descendant of the Bold Ruler sire line and since 1990 two horses from that line have won the Champagne: Proud Accolade and A. P. Valentine (2000). His sire, Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Bernardini gives Stay Thirsty plenty of stamina. In addition, his damsire Storm Bird gives Stay Thirsty plenty of stamia as well as Roberto, and Arts And Letters, the sires of the second and third dam.
Bernardini’s juvenile runners have six wins in 27 starts for 22 percent.
A long shot I like is Meridian Magic (20-1) who comes into the race off of a maiden win in a one mile, 70-yard route race at Delaware on September 18. Meridain Magic is also a descendant of the Bold Ruler Sire line. The juvenile runners of his sire, Mineshaft, have five wins in 16 starts for 31 percent.
Meridian Magic is trained by Nick Zito who has won the Champagne five times.
Inaugurated in 1867, the Champagne is one of the oldest thoroughbred races in America. Notable winners of the Champagne that went on to become Classic Champion Thoroughbreds include: Birdstone, Sea Hero, Easy Goer, Spectacular Bid, Seattle Slew, Foolish Pleasure, Riva Ridge, Count Fleet, Grey Lag and Colin. Secretariat won the Champagne in 1972 but was disqualified and placed second.
Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity
J. B.’s Thunder heads a field of 11 juveniles as the lukewarm 4-1 favorite in the 97th running of the $400,000 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.
J. B.’s Thunder comes into the Dixiana off of a gate-to-wire win in his maiden debut on August 21 at Saratoga. J. B.’s Thunder is a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line and since 1990, three horses from that line have won the Dixiana: Noble’s Promise (2009), Square Eddie (2008) and Eurosilver (2003).
I like J. B.’s Thunder in this race but two horses that I like better are Maybesomaybenot (5-1) and Rough Sailing (8-1).
Maybesomaybenot was the morning line favorite in his last race, the 6-furlong Sapling Stakes (G3), but finished fourth to winner Madman Diaries, beaten by only 1 ¾ - lengths. Prior to that effort, Maybesomaybenot posted two straight victories including the 6-furlong Sanford Stakes (G2) at Saratoga. I’m willing to toss his last race and I believe that Maybesomaybenot should improve with the added distance of the Dixiana.
Maybesomaybenot is also a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line. His sire, Sunday Break, won races from 7-furlongs to 8 ½-furlongs and was a pretty good middle-distance runner. His grandsire, Forty Niner, also was a good middle-distance runner and he won several graded-stakes races including the Travers Stakes (G1), Haskel Invitational Handicap (G1), Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and finished second in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Sunday Break’s juvenile runners have six wins in 16 starts for 38 percent.
Rough Sailing comes into the race with a second-place finish to Major Gain in the Arlington-Washington Futurity Stakes (G3) at Arlington Park. Major Gain out kicked Rough Sailing in that race but if Jockey Michael Baze keeps Rough Sailing closer to the pace, I believe that he will be a factor.
Rough Sailing is a descendent of the Nasrullah sire line. With Mizzen Mast as his sire and Woodman as the damsire, Rough Sailing has the breeding to easily get the distance of the Dixiana. Epsom Derby winner The Minstrel is the sire of the second dam, Music Zone.
Mizzen Mast’s juvenile runners have seven wins in 15 starts for 47 percent.
Major Gain (5-1) recorded a sharp work out at Keeneland on October 2 and looks tough in this race. Major Gain is a descendant of the Royal Charger sire line and the last horse from that line to win the futurity was Sir Bordeaux (1990).
The juvenile runners of Major Gain’s sire, More Than Ready have 15 wins in 45 starts for 33 percent.