06/04/2010 11:00PM

Garcia boots home Champagne d'Oro at 39-1


ELMONT, N.Y. - In his first mount ever at Belmont Park, jockey Martin Garcia - who three weeks ago made a name for himself on a national scale when he rode Lookin At Lucky to victory in the Preakness Stakes - guided Champagne d'Oro to a 39-1 upset in the on Saturday.

Champagne d'Oro ($81), the second longest shot on the board in the 12-horse field, set all the pace and grimly turned back Amen Hallelujah, the 5-2 favorite, to score by a half-length. Tanda, who like Amen Hallelujah rallied very wide on the far turn, finished a length farther back in third. Quiet Temper finished fourth, 2 1/4 lengths behind Tanda.

Champagne d'Oro broke sharply under Garcia and set initial fractions of 23.61 seconds and 46.86 while being pursued by Dances With Ashley, Streaker, and Buckleupbuttercup.

After entering the far turn, Buckleupbuttercup took over a clear second and drew even with Champagne d'Oro at the top of the stretch, with six furlongs completed in 1:12.00. By that point, Amen Hallelujah, who advanced five wide on the far turn, and Tanda, who made a big seven- to eight-wide move after being farther back early than expected, also looked like serious win threats.

But Buckleupbuttercup was unable to sustain her rally and faded inside the furlong marker to wind up fifth. And try as they might, Amen Hallelujah and Tanda simply could not reel in the surprising Champagne d'Oro, who held on to complete the mile over a fast track in 1:37.44.

"Today, I let her break on her own," Garcia said. "I let her have the lead. I know she can run. Today, this dirt helped her a lot. She loved the ground."

Owned by Southern Equine Stables and trained by Eric Guillot, Champagne d'Oro, a Kentucky bred daughter of Medaglia d'Oro from the Saratoga Six mare Champagne Glow, was recording her first career stakes win in the Acorn. She had only recorded her official maiden win three starts back in her first start this year (she was disqualified from the purse money after finishing first in a maiden race at Del Mar last summer, one of six starts she made as a 2-year-old) and followed with a sharp second at 12-1 in the Fair Grounds Oaks. However, Champagne d'Oro finished a distant 11th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in her last start, albeit after a troubled trip, and she finished a distant last of 12 in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in her only other previous attempt at the Grade 1 level.

Assistant trainer Richard Baltas said after the Acorn that Champagne d'Oro will go to Saratoga, where Guillot will have 15 to 20 horses stabled.