10/05/2011 11:16AM

Breeders' Cup: Champagne, Breeders' Futurity offer berths to Juvenile

Barbara D. Livingston
Union Rags, the Saratoga Special winner, will prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in Saturday's Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.

Having won Win And You’re In challenge races toward the Breeder’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5, Creative Cause, Drill, and Currency Swap have essentially run their way into the starting gate.

Now, it’s time for a couple more to get their turn Saturday, when the Grade 1 Champagne is run at Belmont Park and the Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity is contested at Keeneland. Both races are Win and You’re In challenge races, meaning the winners of each earn an entry-paid automatic berth into Juvenile.

Both races will have larger fields than last week’s Norfolk, a race Creative Cause won over Drill and four others.

Union Rags, the Saratoga Special winner and one of the leaders of the division, is among the talented colts set to race in the Champagne, as is Alpha, a flashy maiden winner in his only start, and Power World, runner-up in both the Bashford Manor and Sanford Stakes.

Neil Howard, trainer of Power World, said he opted for the Champagne over the Breeders’ Futurity in part to keep his horse on dirt, rather than on Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack surface.

“We just felt we’d go in the Champagne and let that be our guide,” he said.

Even without Power World, the Breeders’ Futurity isn’t lacking depth, with a full field of 14 entered in the body of the field, plus two also eligibles. Three horses also were excluded.

Beyond volume, the race is interesting in that the presence of Majestic City may provide some degree of a barometer of how a top-level West Coast 2-year-old matches up with those from other regions.

Majestic City won the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship in July and was most recently third behind Drill and Creative Cause in the Sept. 7 Del Mar Futurity.