St. Elias Stable, MeB Racing Stables, and Brooklyn Boyz Stables' Greenpointcrusader went from last-out maiden winner to grade I winner in the $500,000 Champagne Stakes for 2-year-olds Oct. 3 at Belmont Park.
With Joe Bravo riding for trainer Dominick Schettino, Greenpointcrusader, a Bernardini colt, rallied from off the pace to take the one-mile Champagne in 1:36.25 on a sealed, sloppy surface. Sunny Ridge was second and Portfolio Manager finished third.
Greenpointcrusader, bred in Kentucky by Oakbrook Farm, paid $15 to win. Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) winner Ralis battled for the lead at the top of the stretch but fell out of contention.
The Champagne is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event for the Breeders' Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile (gr. I) Oct. 31 at Keeneland. His connections indicated Greenpointcrusader is headed to Kentucky.
"More than likely we'll stay here and head to Keeneland a week before the Breeders' Cup," said Anthony Bonomo Jr., whose father owns Brooklyn Boyz Stables.
Another last-out maiden winner Tale of S'avall set fractions of :23.59 for the first quarter-mile, :46.78 for a half-mile, and 1:10.94 for six furlongs while being pressed by Ralis and Sunny Ridge. Greenpointcrusader, who stumbled at the start, bided his time in sixth early before Brave asked him for run in the stretch.
Greenpointcrusader ranged up outside of horses in the lane, collared Sunny Ridge in the final sixteenth of a mile, and pulled away to win by 4 1/2 lengths.
"This horse really didn't have the clearest of races in his first two starts," Bravo said. "He's a big horse and he needs a clear shot. He recovered (from the break) so well and was so comfortable on the backside, he gave me confidence when we turned for home that he was going to kick.
"Dom did a great job bringing him around. The last sixteenth of a mile, I kind of geared him down. I didn't really want to get to the bottom of him. His next one is going to be sick. How great is this Breeders' Cup going to be this year? Every day is a blessing, that's all."
Schettino said the Kentucky-bred colt out of the Cryptoclearance mare Ava Knowsthecode, making him a full brother to grade III winner Algorithms and a half brother to grade I winner Justin Phillip, trained well heading into the Champagne. He said he left it up to Bravo where to place Greenpointcrusader in the race.
Doug O'Neill, who trains sixth-place finisher Ralis, called the effort a "head-scratcher. We just have to go over him real good when we get back to the barn and figure it out. He just didn't seem to fire today and maybe because of the track but not sure though."