10/08/2009 11:00PM

Aspire tries to turn tables on Dublin

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Barbara D. Livingston
Dublin (above) won last month's Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga, but Aspire had a tougher trip.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Dublin overcame some trouble and a bit of immaturity to win last month's Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga. But the horse he beat by two lengths, Aspire, didn't have the smoothest of trips either and figures to offer more value when the two meet again in Saturday's Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park.

The Champagne, a one-turn one-mile race for 2-year-olds, is one of three Grade 1 stakes on Saturday's 10-race card at Belmont. The Champagne is a Win and You're In race, meaning the winner gains an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

In his third start, Dublin made the jump from maiden company to Grade 1 winner by overcoming a stumbling start in the Hopeful and then an incident in the stretch when he bore out from jockey Jamie Theriot's whip. Dublin recovered quickly and was able to hold off Aspire, who was making a late run at him.

But Aspire, who in his second start was making the jump from debut winner to the Hopeful, had already encountered trouble and traffic. Approaching the half-mile pole, he was bumped off stride by a horse to his outside and got shuffled back to near last. Around the far turn, Aspire advanced into contention along the inside, but approaching the quarter pole, jockey Julien Leparoux had to wait for running room. Leparoux guided Aspire to the five path and he rallied nicely, though he had spotted Dublin too much ground.

"He had his position but then lost his position,'' said Eddie Kenneally, the trainer of Aspire. "He made up a lot of ground and passed some nice horses. A mile should suit him good, and in a small field you hope to get a better trip.''

The experience Aspire gained in the Hopeful gives Kenneally confidence heading into the Champagne.

"When you win a maiden race and go to a Grade 1 you're taking a shot,'' Kenneally said. "We took a shot and it worked out very, very well. That gives us confidence to go in another Grade 1. We're thinking he can turn the tables on Dublin if he takes to the added distance and has racing luck.''

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has raved about the improvement Dublin has made in the five weeks since the Hopeful.

"He's gotten more focused,'' Lukas said. "He's stronger and tighter than he was.''

Discreetly Mine comes back three weeks after running second to D' Funnybone in the Grade 2 Futurity. Discreetly Mine missed a few days of training after developing an infection where he had grabbed himself, or got stepped on, during the race. Trainer Stanley Hough made the decision to run in this race after Discreetly Mine worked a good five furlongs on Monday.

Homeboykris makes his first start since being purchased privately by Louis Lazzinnaro and transferred to trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. following a maiden win at Calder on July 11.