To paraphrase Horace Greeley, it is quite evident that all the good young men have gone west, and are now ready to head back east in an attempt to conquer the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park. The West Coast natives have absolutely dominated this division in the key months and weeks heading up to championship day Oct. 27. And if there was any doubt about that, there is none remaining after Officer's smashing win in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont, at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile distance, Oct. 6.
All eyes will be on Officer when five 2-year-olds take the post for the grade I $500,000 Champagne Stakes Saturday at Belmont Park. The Champagne is last local prep for juvenile colts before the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Oct. 27, also at the New York oval.
Like all juveniles, Jump Start has some questions to answer if he is to jump up and be victorious in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles. While he is bred to run all day on top, his female family on his bottom side presents stamina issues that the colt must overcome.
This is the weekend that should clear up a very murky 2-year-old picture three weeks out from the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Hopefully, and we do mean with fingers crossed, as injuries and illnesses continue to take their toll on the juvenile ranks, we will get to see The Thoroughbred Corp.'s Officer prep for racing's biggest day.
After doing more about-faces than a soldier in boot camp, trainer Bob Baffert has decided that Officer, the leading juvenile in the universe right now, will make his next appearance in the $500,000 Champagne Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park Oct. 6 at 8 1/2 furlongs. Officer, by Bertrando, is perfect in four starts, including wins by six, eight, and seven lengths in his first three races. In his most recent effort, the Sept. 5 Del Mar Futurity (gr. II), Officer won, geared down, by 1 1/2 lengths.
Trainer Juan "Paco" Gonzalez shipped Came Home to Saratoga to avoid running against Officer and the gambit proved successful Saturday when Came Home drew off to a two-length victory in the $200,000 Hopeful Stakes. The winning time of 1:21.94 marks the fastest running of the Hopeful at its present distance of seven furlongs.
Who said size doesn't matter? All you had to do is go to the paddock for The Saratoga Special and see that size matters most.
Overbrook Farm's homebred Jump Start, the 8-5 favorite in the Saratoga Special (gr. II), ran down a tiring Heavyweight Champ in the final 100 yards to win the $150,000 race by three-quarters of a length. It was 5 1/2-lengths back to third-place finisher Booklet.
Seven colts are scheduled to head postward Wednesday in the grade II Saratoga Special. Lunar Bounty, who is undefeated in two starts, is the 2-1 morning line favorite.
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