Updated on 09/17/2011 11:35AM

Birdstone completes big double for Zito

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Birdstone ($6.50) wins the $500,000 Champagne Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths at Belmont on Saturday.

ELMONT, N.Y. - There was a chill in the air at Belmont Park on Saturday, indicating that indeed autumn has arrived. But trainer Nick Zito couldn't help but think about spring.

In a span of 20 minutes, Zito won a pair of graded stakes for juvenile colts, and while many horsemen would be thinking Breeders' Cup, Zito is thinking Kentucky Derby.

Just after Eurosilver romped to victory for Buckram Oak Farm in the Grade 2, $400,000 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, Birdstone pulled away from favored Chapel Royal inside the eighth pole to win the Grade 1, $500,000 by 2 1/2 lengths at Belmont.

Chapel Royal, the 3-2 favorite, finished second, 6 3/4 lengths ahead of Dashboard Drummer.

Despite the victory, both Zito and owner Marylou Whitney said that Birdstone would not run in the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita. Zito, who won his fourth Champagne in the last six years, said it is also likely that Eurosilver would skip the Juvenile.

Zito knows full well that a BC Juvenile winner has never won the following year's Kentucky Derby. And, he agreed with Whitney's assessment that the Juvenile is "too much, too soon" for a young horse.

"I want you guys bugging the you-know-what out of me in the spring," Zito said, referring to reporters calling about potential Kentucky Derby horses. "The Breeders' Cup is wonderful, but she's right."

Birdstone, a half-brother to Kentucky Oaks winner Bird Town, bounced back from a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Hopeful on Aug. 30 at Saratoga. Under Jerry Bailey, Birdstone stalked a relatively soft pace set by Chapel Royal and Read the Footnotes, engaged Chapel Royal turning for home, and drew clear late. Birdstone, a son of Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.05 over a fast track. Birdstone returned $6.50 to win.

"I was happy he was able to lay off the pace, to be honest with you, because I didn't see a whole lot of pace aside from [Chapel Royal]," said Bailey, who picked up the mount after both Silver Wagon and Cooperation missed the race due to illness.

For the second straight time, Chapel Royal disappointed as the favorite in a Grade 1 race. After setting a relatively slow pace - he ran the first six furlongs in 1:13.75 - he couldn't run with Birdstone in the final furlong.

"When it came time for the big punch, he got a little headstrong," jockey John Velazquez said.