10/04/2008 12:00AM

Vineyard Haven romps in Champagne

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Vineyard Haven's Champagne win put him atop the division, but he's likely to skip the BC.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Bobby Frankel told anyone who would listen how good he thought Vineyard Haven is. It's unlikely there are any doubters remaining.

After putting away a pace challenge from longshot A.P. Cardinal, Vineyard Haven, under Edgar Prado, galloped to a 5 3/4-length victory over a deep field in the Grade 1, $400,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park. Munnings finished second, three-quarters of a length ahead of 3-1 favorite Cribnote.

Vineyard Haven added the Champagne to his victory in last month's Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga, putting him squarely atop the 2-year-old colt division. The Champagne was part of the Breeders' Cup's Win and You're In program, meaning Vineyard Haven earned an automatic berth into the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. But Frankel, who is majority owner of Vineyard Haven, is leery of running Vineyard Haven over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface - as well as back in three weeks - and said Saturday from Keeneland, "I don't think I'll run."

That will be welcome news to those that do run in the Juvenile.

Though Vineyard Haven won the Hopeful by 2 1/4 lengths, many people focused on the runner-up, Cribnote, who blew the turn before rallying to get second. Frankel said it was only conjecture that Cribnote would have beaten him with a clean trip.

In the Champagne, Cribnote was sitting in a stalking position behind Vineyard Haven and A.P. Cardinal, who dueled through fractions of 22.74 seconds and 45.59 for the opening half-mile. As A.P. Cardinal faded, Vineyard Haven continued on, running six furlongs in 1:10.53 while opening up a 3 1/2-length lead. Prado took Vineyard Haven in hand in deep stretch, and the colt covered the mile in 1:36.06. He returned $10.40 as the second choice.

"He broke nice and easy; I know I had pressure from the outside, but my horse was pricking his ears and doing things so easily," said Prado, who won four races on the card. "I know we were moving along a little bit, but when I called on him he just accelerated. How many 2-year-olds can do that? Go fast, relax on the turn, and find another gear."

Frankel purchased Vineyard Haven, a son of Lido Palace, privately from the Calder-based owner/trainer Lynne Scace after his debut. He brought in Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre and Louis Lazzinnaro as partners.

"He's a game little horse - I couldn't be any happier, especially for the people that own him," Frankel said, mentioning Torre and Lazzinnaro by name.

If he does skip the Breeders' Cup, Vineyard Haven may run next in the Hollywood Futurity at Hollywood Park in December.