09/23/2013 3:56PM

Breeders' Cup Juvenile: Pletcher's hope Havana stepping right into Champagne

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Tom Keyser
Havana wins his debut last month at Saratoga in 1:02.64 for 5 1/2 furlongs.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has won two of the last three runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with horses who had decidedly different campaigns.

In 2010, Uncle Mo went from a spectacular maiden win at Saratoga in August to a victory in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park in October to a dominant victory in the Juvenile at Churchill Downs in November.

In 2012, Shanghai Bobby got his campaign started in April and was a three-time graded stakes winner by the time he won the Juvenile by a head over He’s Had Enough at Santa Anita.

[BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Win and You’re In schedule and results]

This year, if Pletcher is to make it back to the $2 million Juvenile - to be held Nov. 2 at Santa Anita - it will be with Havana, who will try to follow up a spectacular debut at Saratoga in August with a victory in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont on Oct. 5.

Pletcher said it takes a special horse to do what Uncle Mo did, and he hopes that Havana is in that mold. A son of Dunkirk, Havana won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race by 2 3/4 lengths on Aug. 23, running the distance in 1:02.64 - just .13 of a second off the track record - and beating Kendall’s Boy, who came back to win his next start at Churchill Downs.

“A lot of factors indicate this horse is very legitimate, but I said it at the time Uncle Mo was doing it it’s very rare when you have horses go from maidens to winning the Champagne to the Breeders’ Cup,” Pletcher said. “It’s not unprecedented, but it does take a special horse, so we’ll see. We’ll give him that chance to prove he is or he isn’t.”

On Monday, Havana worked five furlongs in 1:00.58 over the Belmont Park training track under jockey John Velazquez.

The Champagne will be topped by Hopeful winner Strong Mandate, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, and Hopeful runner-up Casiguapo, as well as good-looking debut winner Honor Code. On Monday, Honor Code worked five furlongs in 1:01.54 over Belmont Park’s main track in company with the 3-year-old maiden Secret Bid.

This Saturday at Santa Anita, Southern California’s top juveniles will try to convince their connections they are worthy of a start in the Juvenile in the Grade 1, $250,000 FrontRunner Stakes. Both the FrontRunner and Champagne are Win and You’re In races, meaning each winner gets his entry fees paid.

Del Mar Futurity 1-2-3 finishers Tamarando, Dance With Fate and Can the Man are expected in the FrontRunner, as well as maiden winners New Year’s Day and Roundupthelute and Schoolofhardknocks. A trio of Paul Reddam-owned horses - maidens Bond Holder and Ontology and the maiden winner Indexical - are possible.

JDS0810 More than 1 year ago
I have a hard time going all in on a horse that won a 5 1/2 furlong maiden race. It doesn't matter to me how fast it is. Until you are confonted up front going two turns and turn away challengers, or rate off horses and pass with style, you are not even on my radar. This horse is not on my radar unless he does something special in the Champagne.
dameian ramsay More than 1 year ago
Is it me or what. Don't it seems like last year crop of 2yr olds r better than these 2yr olds. I haven't seen a stand out yet like shanghai bobby. Violence
JDS0810 More than 1 year ago
There are many standouts. That's the issue. Lots of good colts.
dameian ramsay More than 1 year ago
Everybody stop the hype. How many yrs has it been now since a dominant 2yr olf has carried over his form from 2 to 3. The late 2yr old bloomers of late have come to crash the triple crown party. I will till their 3 yr olds Season starts and look out for these other 2yr olds who will run in november and December
Richard More than 1 year ago
Strong Mandate breaks well, stalks Havana and pounces just like he did against Corfu who is just as fast as Havana early. Honor Code plods along for second just nipping Havana before the wire.
dameian ramsay More than 1 year ago
Strong mandate is bred very nicely to route. Love his pedigree
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Havana will become october's Strong mandate flavor of the month. The next Derby Winner can you say triple crown. Blah blah blah. I know I sound like a broken record. The overhype and excitement is just ridiculous. I'll stop no more comments about this I promise
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
I don't get all the hype over Strong Mandate, He won in the mud. I'm not saying he's not a contender or nice horse. I'm just saying ifs tough to get a gauge on his ability by a mud win. I'm with the majority of you folks posting. If Honor code breaks close, I think he wins.
Richard More than 1 year ago
Umm, maybe because if you could read a past performance you would be able to read that he won and broke his maiden on a fast track, so he certainly can handle a fast track. Who's to say Honor Code can run on a fast track? All he's done is won in the mud. Tough for me to gauge Honor Code's ability based on a mud win.
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
I was going off his last win and still not sold off the maiden win. Umm
Kim Lee More than 1 year ago
When a hoss goes from maiden, then straight to a G1 win, you better pay attention..ok
AzHorsePlayer More than 1 year ago
Strong Mandate is hands down the best 2 year old to race thus far...He jogs by daylight on fast, good,mudd,sealed or concrete!
JDS0810 More than 1 year ago
It's not that he just won in the mud, he won by 10 lengths in the G1 Hopeful. it is too early to tell anything of the triple crown trail at all, we all know this so think about BC juvenile and nothing else.
Wesley White More than 1 year ago
2 words: Honor Code
AzHorsePlayer More than 1 year ago
2 words: No Chance
mark oleary More than 1 year ago
Havana captured my attention with his sizzling debut in a scorching time. That's what I look for, not neccesarily the competition, but the clock. It's the barometer of the horse racing world. I remember when Secretariat was a 2 year old, not only did he dominate his competition, but he put up some spectacular fractions. Speaking of spectacular, the great Spectacular Bid not only blew away his contemporaries, but his final clockings were outrageous, like 7 furlongs in 20 and change as a 2 year old. Havana, yes, looks like the real deal.
dameian ramsay More than 1 year ago
Corfu was fast too but I didn't believe in him. Havana has routing pedigree. Do we will c. Never liked his father dunkirk all hype no substance.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
If Honor Code breaks within five lengths of Havana and Strong Mandate he will win by daylight. Awesome colt with classic distance pedigree.
AzHorsePlayer More than 1 year ago
He can have a five length head start and he still doesn't beat Strong Mandate
dameian ramsay More than 1 year ago
I have to c how honor code handles a fast track
Dave More than 1 year ago
Havana looks like the real deal. I love the name too, and this guy is destined for stardom!
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Yeah uncle mo, Hanson, favorite trick stardom. Win Juvenille not much else. I need to stop I promise I would not talk about this anymore.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Destined to be arazi, favorite trick and Hanson. Win Juv then not much else after. Im sorry. I said I would not talk about this anymore
Frank Petro More than 1 year ago
That would be good if you stopped commenting because you have never been right yet.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Good one. Lol. I am on pretty bad streak. But I love racing and will support it forever. But tell me how many juvenille winners have went on to have great success as three year old or up. Not many. My picks suck right now. But my facts never. Love the dig though. To many people on here are to serious. You are destined for stardom!
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
With Pletcher he's more likely destined for the breeding shed in 2-3 races than stardom.