01/06/2011 5:00PM

2010 Eclipse Awards: Champagne d'Oro

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Audrey C. Crosby

Trainer Eric Guillot and Southern Equine Stable LLC had clearly defined goals for Champagne d’Oro from the beginning. Through 14 career starts she has never run in an allowance race, or in any type of claiming race. She raced against stakes company in the Cinderella and Landaluce last year as a 2-year-old in her second and third starts, when she was a maiden. She was still a maiden when she finished eighth, only 6 3/4 lengths behind Lookin At Lucky, when she tackled males in the 2009 Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, and when she finished 12th in the Grade 1 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last year.

Champagne d’Oro was given nearly 3 1/2 months off after the Juvenile Fillies, then edged maiden specials by a nose in a sprint at Fair Grounds in her first race as a 3-year-old in 2010. Her connections had no doubts about where she belonged, so from that point on she ran against Grade 1 and Grade 2 stakes company exclusively through the rest of the year.

She stretched out from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks and took her field most of the way, but she was caught late and finished second, beaten by a half-length. That was her first graded-stakes placing, and a particularly good performance since it was also the second race of her form cycle and her first route race after the layoff.

Champagne d’Oro didn’t match her Fair Grounds Oaks performance when she finished 11th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in her next start, but she proved that her first stakes placing was not a fluke when she rebounded in a big way with an upset win as a 39-1 longshot in the Grade 1 Acorn. She cut back from a mile to six furlongs and ran another nice race when she finished second in the Grade 1 Prioress.

Champagne d’Oro ran a career-best race when she pressed a quick pace, which included a fast 22.09 second-quarter fraction, then drew away to win the seven furlong, Grade 1 Test by 4 1/2 lengths, with a 97 Beyer Speed Figure.

Those impressive races pointed her out as a prime contender in the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland, but she was returning from a two-month rest in that race, and finished a contending fourth behind Dubai Majesty. Despite that defeat Champagne d’Oro was the mild 4-1 favorite in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, and might logically have been expected to improve second time back, but she finished fourth behind Dubai Majesty again.

It is unfortunate for her owner, trainer, and breeder (Liberation Farm) that Champagne d’Oro didn’t run her best races following her two-month break after the Test. Nevertheless, she is still worthy of favorable recognition for the good year she had, particularly the strong series of four of five consecutive races she ran, starting with her second in the Fair Grounds Oaks through her triumph in the Test.

PAST PERFORMANCES: Champagne d'Oro's 2010 season PPs (PDF)

KEY RACE REPLAY: Test Stakes at Saratoga >>