Belmont Park welcomes you back on the “Road to the Derby” with one of their premier graded stakes races: The Champagne. This race started back in 1867 and has recently crowned some seriously fast colts (Jackie’s Warrior and Tiz the Law in the last two runnings). This race also is a win-and-in chance for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. But enough yappin’, let’s get into the field.
1. Wit (ML 2/1) – Lots of promise with this horse. Just slightly longer odds than the 9-5 favorite. This horse has raced against tougher competition than most all of the field, won its first two races, and finished second after being favorited at Saratoga on September 6th. Wit got off to a horrendous start, and still was able to make his way back into the money. We’ll see if Irad Ortiz can get this Pletcher pony off to a good start.
2. My Prankster (ML 5/2) – First time stretching out to 7 furlongs for My Prankster. He won his debut, and now is stepping up to take on a couple of tougher horses than what he saw last time out. He won his debut by 10 lengths, but I don’t see that happening today.
3. Jack Christopher (ML 9/5) – I bet on JC when he raced early on the Travers Day card. He won and won big time. Whenever I need some goosebumps, I just watch the 1994 Holy Bull Travers win. The gamiest of game… *stares off into the distance longingly.* Anyways, today we’ll see if Jack Christopher has some of his grandfather’s heart in him today.
4. Kavod (ML 50/1) – I don’t hate putting a flyer down on this horse and giving a 50/1 shot a chance in this small field. I don’t love it, or even like it, for that matter – but 2yos can be a little unpredictable sometimes. Speed ratings are slower than the rest of the field, but they’re going to try something new with the blinkers on for this race and hope he improves.
5. Gunnite (ML 4/1) – Gunnite is an intriguing bet today. Certainly has the speed ratings to run with this field, and I think he might even lead early in this race. I like the speed, I like that he’s experienced, and he has run against good horses. At 4/1, it may be the best value pick of the day.
6. Commandperformance (ML 10/1) – The last of 3 Pletcher horses running in today’s six horse field. Was beaten in the mud in its debut (which I’ll 100% forgive). Speed figures aren’t bad compared to the other ponies in the race, and his BRIS class rating is going to lag behind a bit due to his loss to a lower rated horse, but at 10/1, you can’t knock the value.
How I see it: I nailed the Iroquois pick with Major General, and I’m hoping to come back with another value pick in the 2yo stakes season. The Metzbets pick for The Champagne Stakes is Gunnite. If this value holds and he goes off at odds twice as high as both Wit and Jack Christopher, I think he can pull this off and get his first 10 points toward the Kentucky Derby. Give me 5/1/3 in this one.