Champagne d'Oro, winner of the June 5 Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park, struck again, this time at Saratoga Aug. 7 in the seven-furlong Test Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO). Bonnie Blue Flag was second, 4 1/2 lengths behind the winner.
Champagne d’Oro races for Southern Equine Stables and Mike Smith, and is trained by Eric Guillot. The daughter of top sire Medaglia d'Oro , out of the Saratoga Six mare Champagne Glow, was bred in Kentucky by Rob Whiteley’s Liberation Farm. She was purchased by Southern Equine for $210,000 out of the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Morning-line favorite Franny Freud, who defeated Champagne d’Oro in the six-furlong Prioress Stakes (gr. I) July 4 at Belmont, was scratched from the race Aug. 5 after a career-ending soft-tissue injury was discovered.
It was Pica Slew, the 7-2 favorite, who got out in front from the rail and set the early fractions of :22.41 and :44.50 while Miguel Mena had Champagne d’Oro right on her heels while under a good hold. Lovely Lil, Bonnie Blue Flag, and Christine Daae were also stalking. Champagne d’Oro put the pressure on Pica Slew on the turn, grabbed the lead at the three-sixteenths marker and drew clear. She traveled the seven furlongs in 1:22.71.
“In her last race, I got her into a little trouble before the quarter-pole, and she wound up second,” said Mena. “I am very happy the connections gave me the chance to ride her back. Today, I had a great trip. She broke sharply, was right there on the lead with (Pica Slew), switched leads around the turn and came through in the end. Today there were no problems and she got the money.”
“She doesn’t rate, but she can get headed and finish,” said Guillot. “If she doesn’t get grabbed, she’s fine."
Bonnie Blue Flag, the 9-2 second choice, chased the leader, but was no match down the lane. She was a half-length ahead of Belle of the Hall at the wire. Lovely Lil and Ash Zee dead-heated for fourth. They were followed by Christine Daae, Buckleupbuttercup, Pica Slew, and Tidal Pool.
“I was in perfect position and I saw the winner, which I knew was the horse to beat,” said rider John Velazquez, who was aboard Bonnie Blue Flag. “When I pulled my horse out at the quarter pole she gave me a little bit, but the winner just drew away. It really was a good effort, but the winner was just much the best today.”
Champagne d’Oro paid for $12.40, $6.40, and $4.30 for her win in the $250,000 Test. Bonnie Blue Flag returned $6 and $4 and Belle of the Hall paid $5 to show. The 3-4 exacta returned $74.
Champagne d’Oro won the Acorn following an 11th-place finish in the April 30 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). In all, Champagne d’Oro sports a 3-3-1 mark from 12 starts. The Test victory, worth $150,000, boosted her career earnings to $493,465.
“I think she’s going to be a really good filly as a 4-year-old if she stays sound – a really good filly at a mile to a mile-and-a-sixteenth," Guillot said. "I want to keep her at seven-eighths and stretch her out after the Breeders’ Cup. With the way she won easily, she could come back (in the grade I Ballerina Aug. 28).”