Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Contact: Jenny Kellner
Pletcher hoping Daredevil pops in G1 Champagne
ELMONT, N.Y. - With victories in three of the past four editions of the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne, and five overall, it's tough to argue with trainer Todd Pletcher's rate of success in the preeminent race for 2-year-olds at Belmont Park. On Saturday, the trainer will attempt to enhance his average even further when he sends out Let's Go Stable's Daredevil out against five other promising juveniles in the one-mile race.
The Champagne and its sister race, the Grade 1, $500,000 Frizette, are both "Win and You're In" races for the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Park October 31 and November 1, with the victors earning all-fees paid berths into their corresponding Breeders' Cup races. The Champagne will be run as race 8 on the 11-race card, which, in addition to the Frizette, also will include the Grade 3, $500,000 Hill Prince and the $200,000 Temperence Hill Invitational.
Having taken the 2010 and 2013 editions of the Champagne with maiden winners Uncle Mo and Havana, respectively, Pletcher has no qualms about following the same pattern with Daredevil, a 6 ¼-length winner first time out over a muddy track on September 13.
"We've had success a couple of times running horses out of a maiden race in the Champagne," said Pletcher, who also won in 2012 with Shanghai Bobby, in 2006 with Scat Daddy and n 2004 with Proud Accolade. "It's always an advantage to maybe have another start or two under your belt when you're going into these races, but hopefully what he lacks in experience he'll make up for in talent."
Javier Castellano will be aboard Daredevil, the 2-1 morning-line favorite. The pair will leave from post position 6.
Another colt coming off an eye-catching maiden victory is Zayat Stables' El Kabeir, who scored by 10 ¾ lengths second time out on August 30 at Saratoga Race Course. In his first outing, the Scat Daddy colt ran an even third behind winner Blofeld going five furlongs on August 14.
"We knew he could run, and we knew he had talent," said Terranova of El Kabeir's maiden victory. "He ran a tremendous figure [93 Beyer Speed Figure] and it was visually impressive. It was coming back quick, but the first race kind of put him in the right place. He got a great schooling in that race. He's a high-energy colt, and it focused him and pointed him in the right direction. That's why I ran him back so quick - he really came on the two weeks after that first race."
In the intervening six weeks, El Kabeir has continued to progress, according to Terranova.
"He's had three really nice breezes and done them all the right way - real professional," said Terranova. "He's in a beautiful rhythm down here. We haven't had a bad day or missed a day with him since he won. Everything has gone so right for him. Hopefully we'll have a few good days with him and a good fall, and he'll develop into a good racehorse."
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be back aboard El Kabeir, who drew the rail and was listed at 5-2 on the morning line.
Challenging the impressive maiden winners are a pair of colts with stakes victories already on their resumes: Alex and JoAnn Leiblong's I Spent It, who won the Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga on August 10 and next finished second in the Grade 1 Hopeful to Competitive Edge, and the New York-bred Upstart, who registered a 95 Beyer in taking the restricted Funny Cide on August 24 at Saratoga in his second start.
I Spent It, who broke his maiden at Belmont on July 2 for trainer Tony Dutrow, is 6-1 on the morning line. The Super Saver colt will be ridden by Jose Lezcano from post position 3.
Upstart, trained by Rick Violette for Ralph Evans, drew post position 2 and will be ridden by Jose Ortiz. The Flatter ridgling was listed at 7-2 on the morning line.
Rounding out the field are The Truth Or Else, who broke his maiden by 2 ½ lengths in his fourth start after being switched from turf to dirt, and Holy Boss, a 10 ¼-length maiden winner at Churchill Downs first time out for trainer Steve Asmussen.
The field for the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne:
I Ortiz, Jr.
J Terranova 5-2
R Violette 7-2
I Spent It
A Dutrow 6-1
R Santana, Jr.
S Asmussen 5-1
The Truth Or Else
K McPeek 10-1
T Pletcher 2-1