The highlight of the 2022 Belmont Fall meet at Aqueduct Racetrack is finally here as the 2022 Champagne Stakes looks to run this Saturday. The field is small but has a great field of two-year-olds as it is one of the first looks for the 2023 Kentucky Derby. In Last year's Champagne Stakes, we saw 2022 Woody Stephens Stakes winner Jack Christopher win by more than 2 and 3/4 lengths. Now, all eyes are on the two-year-old class as the Road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby Starts at the Aqueduct. Here's a look at your current field for the Breeders Cup Qualifying Champagne Stakes.
Andiamo a Firenze
New York Bred Andiamo a Firenze looks to win his first graded stakes race following his most recent win in the ungraded Funny Cide S. Presented by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. The two-year-old colt has already started his stakes career off this season running in the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes, won by Mo Strike, where he finished in third. But the Kelly Breen trainee has been putting up good speed figures, and for entering the Champagne with two wins, he could be a possible option for a high payout. So id considers Andiamo a Firenze for a win in the Champagne, but it won't be a blowout win, more of a photo finish if he is to capture a victory.
Top Recruit looks to win his third race as he takes on the field in the Champagne Stakes. The Runhappy Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes winner most recently took a win this August at Ellis Park, with a speed figure of 92. After that, however, the Michael Maker trainee struggled in the Prairie Gold Juvenile Stakes, where he finished in third with a low-speed figure of 64. But, the two-year-old colt looks to turn it around as he has improved in his most recent workout times, going five furlongs in 59.80, the fastest of the runners that ran workouts that day. So, for the Champagne, do I think he has a chance to win? Absolutely, but he will have to run a stronger race than in his debut win and the Prairie Gold Juvenile Stakes.
Brad Cox's Verifying looks to capture his second win this season in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Qualifier race after his impressive debut in the opener of the Travers Stakes Day from Saratoga Spring, New York. The two-year-old has only one start, which he won, and sits at the program at 9-5 odds. Now he hasn't raced much because of having only one opening, so we will have to go off the workout times for this colt. In his latest workout, Verifying ran five furlongs in 1.00.20, placing fifth in the field of 60 that ran that day. This horse is either a win or loose option as he has only one start, which makes me hesitant to not wagering on him at 9-5. But a win for Verifying could be a good look at one of the many Kentucky Derby racers to come.
Champions Dream enters the program at 5-1 and hopes to win his second start after winning his debut race and only start this past month in Saratoga. The Danny Gargan trainee has put up some good workout times, going four furlongs in 47.55 in his last workout on September 24th at Saratoga, placing first out of the 23 other runners who have workouts that day. Unfortunately, the price of 5-1 doesn't work out for him in this race as he's one of the long shots of winning the Champagne as his win in his Maiden Special Weight only had a Byer speed figure of 79. I look at the morning line for this horse before placing a wager on him to win the Champagne, but Id consider the Rosedown Racing Stables LLC horse a good option for a place or show.
Rodeo Creek Racing's Blazing Sevens looks to race in his second stakes race, eager to capture a second win. The Chad Bown trainee comes into the Breeders Cup Qualifying Champagne Stakes after a third-place finish in the grade one Hopeful stake, where Todd Pletcher's Forte won over a challenging field. However, Blazing Sevens has dealt with a sloppy track before, and judging by the weather that it's supposed to be in New York, he will have to deal with it again. But I don't think Blazing Sevens has what it takes to overtake fellow Champagne runner Gulfport, possibly one of the best two-year-olds to keep your eye on this year. But for the price of 8-1 in the program, I would consider adding him into my trifecta bids for a potentially higher payout.
Trainer Steve Asmussen, the winningest trainer in North America, has had some pretty good three-year-old runners in the past couple of years but is yet to have won a Kentucky Derby. As we start the Road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby, Trainer Steve Asmussen has Gulfport, one of the top two-year-olds to watch this year. Gulfport sits last in the program at 2-1 odds and has had an incredible season. Sired by Uncle Mo, Gulfport has two wins and two second-place finishes, his most recent being his second-place finish in the Grade one Hopeful Stakes.
He opened up the season at Churchill downs this June during the Belmont Stakes racing fest, winning his debut race by more than seven lengths. Then, on July 4th, Gulfport followed up his debut race with stakes win in the ungraded Bashford Manor Stakes, where he put up a Byer Speed Figure of 102. Following his win in the Bashford Manor Stakes, the two-year-old looked to capture his first graded stakes win, which he is yet to do. However, I believe that Gulfport will be able to win the Breeders Cup Qualifying Champagne Stakes over the rest of the field.
So there is a look at your second race for the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Following the competition of the Breeders Cup Qualifying Champagne Stakes, there will be two more Road to the Kentucky Derby next week as Santa Anita hosts the American Pharaoh Stakes on October 8th, and Keenland Park hosts the Breeders Futurity Stakes on the 8th as well. My final bets for the Breeders Cup Qualifying Champagne Stakes are as follows.
PS- Blazing Sevens
Exacta- 6 and 5
Trifecta- 6 5 3
Superfecta- 6 5 3 2
Best of Luck to all who bet on the 2022 Breeders Cup Qualifying Champagne Stakes, and make sure to be on the lookout for some of our next upcoming stakes previews as the Road of the 158th running of the Kentucky Derby heads over to "The Big A"!