Let's Go Stable's Daredevil accelerated to the lead entering the stretch of Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne at Belmont Park and dominated to the finish line, winning handily by a 2 1/2-length margin. Now unbeaten from two starts, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt has established himself as a top contender for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on November 1.
"I thought it was very impressive," Pletcher said. "He rated kindly and did everything you would hope one would do. He finished really well and I couldn't be more pleased. His training for us has been really impressive in the mornings."
Javier Castellano was up on the son of More Than Ready.
"He's a special horse," the jockey noted. "I worked him last weekend and he was very impressive the way he did it. He didn't do anything much today; he just galloped along."
Daredevil opened his racing career with a 6 1/4-length thrashing of maiden special weight foes on September 13, winning over a muddy track at Belmont Park. The chestnut caught another wet track in the Champagne, completing the one-mile distance in 1:36 3/5 over the sloppy, sealed oval.
"We'd never breezed him on an off track, so I was a little concerned running him the first time (on a muddy track September 13), but we felt pedigree-wise he would handle it, and he obviously does," Pletcher said. "He trains like a good horse on fast dirt, too."
Favored at 8-5 among six rivals, Daredevil broke inwardly from post 6 and wound up settling a few lengths off the pace during the early stages, racing well off the rail through an opening quarter-mile in :22 4/5.
Holy Boss was showing the way on a short lead and Daredevil advanced to second, a half-length back after a half-mile in :44 1/5. Castellano still had his mount under a tight hold turning for home and Daredevil responded quickly when called upon in upper stretch, sticking a head in front as he reached the three-quarters point in 1:11 1/5.
Daredevil rolled home much the best and returned a paltry win payout of $5.40. He received 10 points for winning the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series race and increased his bankroll to $345,000.
"The one thing I told Todd just now is that he reminded me of Bernardini when he won the Jim Dandy," Castellano said. "He just splashed along today; he liked the track. He'll do whatever you ask him to."
"(Sitting off the pace) was a function of drawing the outside post," Pletcher added. "You draw the inside, you have to go and secure a position. We were fortunate to get a good post position and he was professional enough to take advantage of it."
Upstart, the 7-2 third choice in the wagering, offered a nice turn of foot through the final furlongs to be a non-threatening second, 12 3/4 lengths clear of 18-1 longshot The Truth Or Else in third. El Kabeir, Holy Boss and I Spent I came next under the wire.
Bred in Kentucky by Marianne and Brandon Chase, Daredevil was purchased by his connections for $260,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September sale. He's out of the winning Forty Niner mare Chasethewildwind, dam of Grade 1-winning millionaire Albertus Maximus, who counted the 2008 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile among his stakes victories.
Grade 1 winner Race the Wild Wind, a daughter of Sunny's Halo, is Daredevil's second maternal dam. She's responsible for French highweight King Charlemagne; Group 3 hero Meshaheer; and Chasetheragingwind, dam of Grade 1 winner Here Comes Ben.