Southern Equine Stables’ Champagne d'Oro, who had one previous victory in nine starts, scored a major upset at 39-1 when she broke alertly and held off all challengers to win the Betfair/TVG Acorn Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park June 5.
Ridden by Martin Garcia and trained by Eric Guillot, Champagne d’Oro made most of the pace in the one-mile event from post 12. She fended off an early challenge from Buckleupbuttercup and a stretch move from favored Amen Hallelujah to win the Acorn, first leg of the Betfair/TVG Triple Tiara, by half a length.
The fractions in the Acorn were moderate—:23.61 for the opening quarter-mile, :48.86 for the half-mile, and 1:12 for six furlongs—which surely aided the chances of Champagne d’Oro, who in her last start finished far back in a troubled effort in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. Before that, the Kentucky-bred 3-year-old filly by Medaglia d'Oro out of the Saratoga Six mare Champagne Glow fell a half-length shy of wiring the field in the grade II Fair Grounds Oaks.
Champagne d’Oro completed the mile in the Acorn in 1:37.44 on a fast track, with a final quarter of more than 25 seconds. The Belmont surface was glib but not lightening quick.
“Today, I let her break on her own,” said Garcia, the young jockey who won the Preakness (gr. I) two weeks ago aboard Lookin At Lucky. “I let her have the lead and just kept her together and comfortable.”
Amen Hallelujah, a two-time grade II winner this year ridden by Kent Desormeaux, had every chance to pass the leader in the lane but couldn’t. Tanda made a wide move on the final turn and rallied for third in the $300,000 stakes.
Champagne d’Oro paid $81, $29.40, and $12 to win and capped a $474 exacta with the favorite, who returned $4.30 and $3.20. Tanda paid $4.80 to show. The superfecta, rounded out by Quiet Temper, paid $31,463 for a $2 bet.
“Today, everything was right,” said Richard Baltas, Guillot’s assistant. “I told Martin, ‘If she breaks well, let her place herself.’ She got an easy pace and had something left.”
Champagne d’Oro, bred by Liberation Farm, boosted her earnings to $293,465 with the Acorn's winning share of $180,000. Her record stands at 2-2-1 in 10 starts.
Buckleupbuttercup was fifth, followed by Seeking the Title, Tidal Pool, Crisp, Indian Burn, Much Rejoicing, Dances With Ashley, and Streaker. Hot Trip scratched.