New York-bred stakes winner Aveenu Malcainu and Sanford (G3) upsetter Firenze Fire highlight a contentious 12-horse field in Saturday’s $500,000 Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park. A “Win & You’re In” for the November 4 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), the one-mile Champagne is also part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series, awarding points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers.
Aveenu Malcainu will try open company after opening his career with a pair of wins over state-bred foes at Saratoga, including a 2 ½-length triumph in the August 25 Funny Cide. The bay colt was bred in New York but is a son of top sire Into Mischief, who stands at Spendthrift Farm in Central Kentucky, and Gold Square LLC purchased Aveenu Malcainu for $150,000 at the OBS April 2-year-old sale earlier this year. Luis Saez rides for Jeremiah Englehart.
A convincing debut winner at Monmouth Park, Firenze Fire parlayed a forwardly-placed trip into a 12-1 upset when making his second start in the Sanford (G3) at Saratoga. A Florida-bred colt by freshman stallion Poseidon’s Warrior, the Jason Servis-trained colt exits a fourth in the September 4 Hopeful (G1). Irad Ortiz Jr. retains the mount.
Six last-out maiden winners will make their stakes bow and Hazit merits serious respect for Todd Pletcher following an outstanding one-length debut score on the August 26 Travers Day undercard. By Claiborne Farm’s stallion War Front, Hazit showed plenty of early zip leading wire-to-wire and registered a fine 94 BRIS Speed rating. John Velazquez will be back up on the promising youngster.
Honorable Treasure registered a field-best 97 BRIS Speed posting a 6 ¼-length victory in an off-the-turf maiden special weight at Saratoga and the Kenny McPeek trainee will add the services of Dylan Davis for his third start. Enticed could be a good one for Godolphin Racing and Kiaran McLaughlin, posting a sharp 1 ¾-length decision when making his lone appearance at Saratoga on September 4. The Medaglia d’Oro colt is cross-entered to Saturday’s Breeders’ Futurity (G1) but appears likely to run in the Champagne after receiving post 13 at Keenland. Junior Alvarado rides.
Chad Brown has Good Magic, a well-respected son of Curlin who finished second to Hazit as the odds-on favorite in his lone appearance. Jose Ortiz rides the $1 million yearling purchase. Other contenders include Delaware Park stakes victor Kowboy Karma, who exits a runner-up in the Sapling at Monmouth Park; Stronger, who invades for Eric Guillot off a 6 ½-length maiden triumph at Gulfstream Park; and Bahamian, who ships cross-country for Simon Callaghan following a clear second to subsequent FrontRunner (G1) runner-up Solomini in a September 2 maiden at Del Mar.