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The Champagne Stakes (G1) is a race that has produced multiple champions in the past and has proven to be an important prep on the road to Breeders' Cup glory. Last year, we were treated to a spectacular performance by Union Rags: hopelessly trapped in traffic at the quarter pole, the leggy Dixie Union colt barreled his way into the clear and drew off. The year prior, Uncle Mo sealed his status as the best 2-year-old colt in the country with an emphatic Champagne victory.

So who will be toasting in the winner's circle this year?

Todd Pletcher certainly holds a strong hand, saddling three of the seven contenders - each of whom should vie for favoritism. Shanghai Bobby is the logical first choice for many players. The undefeated son of Harlan's Holiday has done absolutely nothing wrong in his three outings thus far and his pedigree suggests he can only improve with distance.

Also part of the Pletcher posse is highly regarded Archwarrior. Despite being scratched from what was supposed to be his debut effort due to concerns about the muddy track, Pletcher made several comments to the media that the dark bay or brown colt was among the best in his barn and he proved his trainer right with a professional maiden victory several weeks later. Also making just his second start is Micromanage. The son of Medaglia d'Oro overcame trouble in a very strong debut win that was a highlight of the Saratoga race Course meeting. The colt is cross-entered in the less prestigious Dover Stakes at Delaware Park on Saturday, with Pletcher saying this week that he will leave the final entry call to owner Mike Repole.

Looking at the other four contenders: Goldencents ships in from Doug O'Neill's Southern California base out of a speedy debut win sprinting on Del Mar synthetic Polytrack surface. The rail draw can only benefit a horse with that much speed, although O'Neill has been putting stamina into the bay with a string of long, slow workouts designed to build fitness.

On the other side of the country and the stopwatch, the Kiaran McLaughlin trained Fortify has been lighting up the Greentree Training Center workout tab with a string of speedy drills. However, the son of Distorted Humor has to prove he can handle the starting gate. So far in his two solid efforts, he has acted up and been bumped at the start. If he can get away clean, he trains like a horse on the improve who could be a force to reckon with.

Rounding out the field is be the most experienced horse in the group, Bern Identity from the Kelly Breen barn, as well as the American-bred British invader Chief Havoc. The former has done little wrong in his career but it's questionable if he can handle the distance. The latter is the only maiden in the field but hasn't been beaten by much in far larger fields overseas.

My Selections:

Micromanage

Archwarrior

Fortify

Chief Havoc

$400,000 Foxwoods Champagne Stakes (G1)

Saturday, Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:34 p.m. EDT

2-year-olds, One Mile

PP

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

ML Odds

1

Goldencents (KY)

K Krigger

D F O'Neill

3-1

2

Shanghai Bobby (KY)

R Napravnik

T A Pletcher

3-1

3

Chief Havoc (KY)

C H Velasquez

J Noseda

15-1

4

Archwarrior (KY)

J R Velazquez

T A Pletcher

5-2

5

Fortify (KY)

R A Dominguez

K P McLaughlin

6-1

6

Bern Identity (KY)

E S Prado

K J Breen

15-1

7

Micromanage (KY)

J Rosario

T A Pletcher

5-1

Image Description

Molly Jo Rosen

Growing up halfway between Hollywood Park and Del Mar, Molly Jo Rosen spent more time at the "horse beach" than the sandy ones. One ride on a pony named Coco at 18 months old had her hooked, and she spent 15 years as a showjumper before a routine birthday trip to Del Mar came with the realization that racing was the life she wanted.

Since then, Molly Jo has traveled across the country working on the best backstretches, frontstretches and farms in the industry. She has held positions with TVG, Churchill Downs, Three Chimneys Farm, and Puglisi Racing, among others.

Now managing member of the Post Parade Racing ownership group, Molly Jo also runs 2yoSales.com (providing data to leading trainers on the juvenile sales), co-hosts the popular podcast Post Parade with The Filly and The Clocker, and can be heard Sundays on "The Fast Track" on Fox Sports 1340 am.

Molly Jo serves her blend of pony punditry at FocusedFilly.com.

Image Description

Molly Jo Rosen

Growing up halfway between Hollywood Park and Del Mar, Molly Jo Rosen spent more time at the "horse beach" than the sandy ones. One ride on a pony named Coco at 18 months old had her hooked, and she spent 15 years as a showjumper before a routine birthday trip to Del Mar came with the realization that racing was the life she wanted.

Since then, Molly Jo has traveled across the country working on the best backstretches, frontstretches and farms in the industry. She has held positions with TVG, Churchill Downs, Three Chimneys Farm, and Puglisi Racing, among others.

Now managing member of the Post Parade Racing ownership group, Molly Jo also runs 2yoSales.com (providing data to leading trainers on the juvenile sales), co-hosts the popular podcast Post Parade with The Filly and The Clocker, and can be heard Sundays on "The Fast Track" on Fox Sports 1340 am.

Molly Jo serves her blend of pony punditry at FocusedFilly.com.

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