Pletcher's Scat Daddy Pops Champagne Cork

Pletcher's Scat Daddy Pops Champagne Cork
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Scat Daddy gives Pletcher another one with Champagne win.
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Scat Daddy gave trainer Todd Pletcher his record 93rd stakes victory in 2006 with a smart win over favored Nobiz Like Shobiz in the 135th running of the $400,000 Champagne (gr. I) for 2-year-olds at Belmont Park Saturday.

Pletcher broke the record for stakes wins in a single season set by his mentor, D. Wayne Lukas, in 1987. The victory moved Pletcher to within one of Lukas' record 53 graded stakes winners.

"It's a tremendous accomplishment for me and my staff," said Pletcher, who last week set the record for trainer's single-season earnings with two and a half months left in the year. "It's a little bit bittersweet because I hold all of Wayne's accomplishments in highest regard. To be honest, I didn't think it was an attainable record. We had one of those remarkable years where everything has been clicking and horses have been running well. It's been a lot of fun."

Ridden by John Velazquez, who has been aboard the son of Johannesburg for all four of his starts, Scat Daddy surged by 7-5 Nobiz Like Shobiz and the pacesetting Pegasus Wind to win the one-turn, one-mile event in 1:36 4/5 by three parts of a length.

Scat Daddy will now likely join fellow "Toddlers" Circular Quay and King of the Roxy in the $2 million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Nov. 4.

Scat Daddy was part of a 4-5 entry when he faded to finish more than four lengths behind Circular Quay in the seven-furlong Hopeful (gr. I) at Saratoga in his last start Sept. 4. Scat Daddy won the Sanford (gr. II) for owners James T. Scatuorchio and Michael Tabor prior to that effort and has now won three of four, with earnings of $405,800.

"It was a huge race," Pletcher said. "With each race, he's gotten a little better and a little more professional. He worked his way through traffic and made a big late run. He did what we thought he would do when we stretched him out. I would think all three horses – Scat Daddy, Circular Quay King of the Roxy – if they are doing well, have all earned the right to be there (at the Breeders' Cup)."

Scat Daddy tracked the leaders from mid-pack as the Lukas-trained Pegasus Wind, ridden by Mike Luzzi, took the early lead from I'm a Numbers Guy and set reasonable fractions of :24, :47 3/5 and 1:12 1/5. Pegasus Wind opened up by about four lengths on the turn for home and looked like a threat to go all the way. But Nobiz Like Shobiz, who had some traffic trouble early for Cornelio Velasquez, mounted a charge to gain the lead inside the eighth pole. Scat Daddy, closing strongly from the middle of the track, overtook both challengers close to home.

"Trying to teach him something in Saratoga paid off today," Velazquez said. "He handled the distance and it worked out good. It scared me a little bit because (Nobiz Like Shobiz) got through on the rail, and I had to go around the other two horses. I caught up to them quickly but was afraid I used him too much. Once he switched leads and went on, he put in a good run down the lane."

The second choice in the field of 10, Scat Daddy paid $7.40, $3.60, and $3. Nobiz Like Shobiz, who was coming off a 103/4-length maiden debut victory, returned $3.10 and $2.50. Pegasus Wind was $7.80 to show.

For trainer Barclay Tagg, who earlier in the day won the Grade II Jamaica Breeders' Cup with Showing Up, Nobiz Like Showbiz was hardly a disappointment.

"He was in tight there for awhile," Tagg said. "He was in some trouble and couldn't get out in time. Cornelio said that, if he broke better, he probably could have won the race. This horse is just a big dummy. This was a big step, going into a grade I off one race. The Breeders' Cup probably won't be the prudent thing to do, but I wouldn't rule it out."

My Golden Opinion finished fourth, followed by Got the Last Laugh, Xchanger, I'm a Numbers Guy, Buffalo Man, Liquidity, and Scottish import Big Timer.

Axel Wend bred the winner, who is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Love Style, in Kentucky. The dark bay was a $250,000 yearling buy last September.

(Chart, Equibase)

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