Updated on 10/07/2012 12:38AM

Belmont Park: Pletcher flexes muscle with strong Champagne contingent


ELMONT, N.Y. – Todd Pletcher told his owners there could be days like this, when he has multiple runners in a race, meaning he could be a winner but his clients could still lose.

Saturday could be one of those days, as Pletcher sends out three – possibly only two – horses in the Grade 1, $400,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.

The Champagne is a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to be run Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.

The trio of Shanghai Bobby, Archwarrior, and Micromanage has combined to win all five of their starts. With limited options on dirt for 2-year-olds at this time of year, Pletcher feels all deserve a shot in the Champagne, though Micromanage was cross-entered in the less prestigious Dover Stakes at Delaware Park, also Saturday. Pletcher said he would let owner Mike Repole decide in which race to run.

[BELMONT: Get PPs, watch Saturday handicapping previews]

“As a public trainer you do what you feel is right for each individual horse,” Pletcher said. “I can honestly say possibly running in the Champagne is the correct thing for each horse.”

Shanghai Bobby, owned by Starlight Stable, is the most accomplished of the trio. He has won all three of his starts and comes off a dominant victory in the Grade 2 Hopeful at Saratoga. Archwarrior, who was super-hyped before he ever ran because of how and who he was training with in the mornings, and Micromanage, both are simply maiden winners.

“Experience is very beneficial in young horses especially earlier in the year,” Pletcher said. As the year goes on, it might be a little less important. It’s an edge for Shanghai Bobby to have three starts, including one at seven furlongs and one at Belmont. At the same time these are two 2-year-olds that are more experienced than their r è sum é suggests.”

Pletcher said that Archwarrior was “well-prepared” for his debut having been previously entered and scratched twice, once due to track surface, once for being on the also-eligible list.

Archwarrior, a son of Distorted Humor owned by Alto Racing, won by 3 1/4 lengths but Pletcher said the horse was 10 lengths in front galloping out, making him believe “there’s more in the tank.”

Pletcher said that Micromanage earns points for having won going seven furlongs first time out at Saratoga.

Mircomanage, a son of Medaglia d’Oro, drew the advantageous outside post in the one-turn Champagne. He drew post 9 in a 10-horse field for the Dover, a race run around two turns.

Fortify, a 5 1/2-length debut winner at Saratoga on Aug. 5, finished second to Shanghai Bobby in the Hopeful. Fortify was stuck inside down the backside and was no match for Shanghai Bobby when he did get running room in upper stretch.

“He definitely got a bit of an education in the Hopeful,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “He took a lot of dirt down inside, was in a little tight. He should move forward off of that race.”

Goldencents shipped in from Southern California following a 7  1/4-length debut win at Del Mar on Sept. 2.

Goldencents showed very good speed and will now stretch out to a mile from 5 1/2 furlongs. Trainer Doug O’Neill, who said earlier this week, he felt the mile would be an asset for Goldencents, will be here from California to saddle Goldencents.

Chief Havoc makes his North American and dirt debut in the Champagne. Though a maiden, he raced competitively in Europe on synthetic and dirt but is bred for the dirt. His grand dam, Queena, was a multiple Grade 1 stakes winner over Belmont’s main track.

Bern Identity, who won the Sanford Stakes at Sartoga, returns to Belmont where he won a maiden race by 13 3/4 lengths. In his most recent start, he was third in the Hopeful.

* The Champagne offers qualifying points for the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs has moved to a points system to determine the field for the Derby, scrapping the previous system of graded stakes earnings. The Champagne's first four finishers will get 10-4-2-1 points, respectively.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the location of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. It will be run Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.

steve milgats More than 1 year ago
GoldenCents wire to wire.........Team O'neill is back with all it's swag. West coast in da house.
Thomas Nicholson More than 1 year ago
My Derby horse Micromanage is running in the 8Th race at Delaware Park saturday, he is the 9 horse. He's a monster. Saw him break his maiden at the Spa this summer. Should keep this to myself but I have a big mouth. If he stays healthy he will win the Ken. Derby. Remember bet with your head not over it. Tommy
Thomas Nicholson More than 1 year ago
Saw Micomanage run up a the Spa. Broke his maiden in a monster race, rated outside and eat them up turning for home. A powerful performance, looked to me to be a very, very, very, special colt. He's my early Derby horse. Should be keeping this to myself. HA HA Check him out saturday at Delaware Park!!!!!!!! Tom Nicholson
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
I wonder how many peps that knock Pletcher have ever had a conversation with him or have been in his barn and seen his operation. The guys intelligent , articulate, and a horseman. His horses always get top care and they perform as they should. He also does well with old horses as well as young. The race track is littered with the jealous. Peeps will always resent the successful.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Bob. He is a nice guy. We were stabled next to him at Hialeah one year. But too many horses. Just like Baffert. Its not jealousy. Its about morality. Towards horses and owners.
Joseph Silverio More than 1 year ago
Archwarrior is not a son of Distored Humor. He is an Arch. I think you confused him with Fortify.
Joel More than 1 year ago
Arch horse is my early Derby selection...Stay healthy, lad - NOT thirsty!
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Whenever somebody says " I can honestly say" I wonder. No way you put 3 top juvenils in obe race. Its because ya got too many. Period. Individual attention my rear end. Better publis stables out there who actually put hands on the horse besides saddling them for the press hyped races.
Brian More than 1 year ago
I actually was relieved to see Pletcher's comments about putting multiple 2-year-olds in the race. This is where a lot of horses should be and too often I read comments in this publication where trainers say, "I would enter X in Y race but we already have Z [of uncommon ownership] for that race," which bothers me every time I read it since the public trainer is supposed to do right by each horse, not consider what is right for the barn as an operation.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
I see your point about appeasing owners vs spotting horses where they belong. However. I dont see how taking 3 young confident colts and running them all in same race boosts their confidence and desire to win. Two will lose and mentally this could ruin them.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
'You do what's right for each horse.' His last of 2012s sophomores went to the breeding shed today. Glad you made it Gem.