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.