Todd Pletcher works hard to be a leading trainer. Of the 21 young Thoroughbreds nominated to the Foxwoods Champagne Stakes (G1), Pletcher trains 10 of those horses and today he’ll send three of them – Archwarrior, Shanghai Bobbby and Micromanage – to the Belmont Park starting gate in the 142nd running of the prestigious $400,000 stakes race.
Archwarrior is the 5-2 morning line favorite. Shanghai Bobby and California shipper Goldencents are the 3-1 morning line second choice while Micromanage is the 5-1 morning line third choice in what appears to be a very contentious race of fast 2-year-olds.
Archwarrior comes into the race off of a 3¼-length maiden win in a 6-furlong sprint race at Saratoga Race Course on August 30. But he’s yet to show his spirit in stakes competition and this is his first attempt at running a route of ground.
However, with Arch as his sire and Seeking The Gold as his damsire, Archwarrior will not have a problem stretching out to a mile and I look for him to be competitive in today’s race.
Undefeated in three starts, Shanghai Bobby broke his maiden by four lengths at Aqueduct racetrack on April 19. He followed that romp with a one length victory in the Track Barron Stakes at Belmont Park on June 27. He finally graduated with graded stakes honors posting a 3¾-length win in the Hopeful Stakes (G2) at Saratoga on September 3.
Harlan’s Holiday, the sire of Shanghai Bobby, was competitive as a two year old winning the Iroquois Stakes (G3), Miller Genuine Draft Cradle Stakes, Cleveland Kindergarten Stakes and the Hoover Stakes.
Orientate, the damsire of Shanghai Bobby, was a champion sprinter and Carson City, the sire of the second dam Steel Band, also adds some speed influence to the pedigree of Shanghai Bobby.
Jockey Rosie Napravnik has done a masterful job guiding Shanghai Bobby to three victories in three starts and I look for them to be competitive in today’s race. But their courage could be severely tested by the California shipper Goldencents.
Trained by Doug O’Neill, Goldencents comes into today’s race off of an impressive 7¼-length romp in his maiden debut at Del Mar on September 2.
As a 2-year-old, Into Mischief, the sire of Goldencents, finished second in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3) and won the 8½-furlong CashCall Futurity (G1) in a time of 1:40.82 – just a few ticks off of the record time of 1:40.74 set by Afternoon Deelites and the second fastest time of 1:40.78 set by Valiant Nature.
Banker’s Gold, the sire of Goldencents’ dam Golden Works, was a pretty good sprinter that was able to carry his speed to victory in the 9-furlong Peter Pan Stakes (G2).
If Goldencents repeats the form of his maiden win, he’ll be tough in the Champagne Stakes.
The young horse I like best in this race is the Distorted Humor colt Fortify (6-1) who was an impressive 5½-length winner in this maiden debut on August 4 at Saratoga.
In his next race – the Hopeful Stakes (G1) – Fortify was bumped severely at the start by Lawn Man but recovered well and still managed to get up for second place, 3¾-lengths behind winner Shanghai Bobby.
If he stays out of trouble and repeats the form of his maiden win, Fortify should be competitive in today’s race.
Honorable mention goes to the 12-1 long shot Chief Havoc who ships in for today’s race from England. With Giant’s Causeway as his sire and A.P. Indy as his damsire, Chief Havoc has the breeding to be competitive in today’s race and if he looks good in the paddock he may be worthy of a wager.
Giant’s Causeway sired First Samurai who won the 2005 Champagne Stakes (G1) and A.P. Indy sired the 2000 victor A.P. Valentine.