Firenze Fire Tops 12 Promising Juveniles For G1 Champagne

Gold Square’s Aveenu Malcainu will look to start his career 3-for-3, taking the step up to graded stakes company as part of a talented field of 12 2-year-olds in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne at one mile on Super Saturday at Belmont Park.

The 146th edition of the Champagne, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Grade 1, $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 4 at Del Mar, is one of four stakes races on a packed card headlined by the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Aveenu Malcainu, who won his first start July 28, is coming off a 2 ½-length victory against state-breds in the Funny Cide on August 25 at Saratoga Race Course. That day was eventful for trainer Jeremiah Englehart, who said the Into Mischief colt hit his head and scratched his nose in his stall in the morning.

The bumps and bruises didn’t deter a winning effort in which he outkicked Inalienable Rights and What a Catch. Englehart said he had initially planned on having him run in the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful on Saratoga’s closing day but wanted additional time to prepare for the Champagne.

“We originally were looking at the Hopeful in Saratoga, but we felt the state-bred stakes would give us extra preparation time for the Champagne,” he said. “We felt all along he can [handle] open company.”

Aveenu Malcainu has won at 5 ½ and 6 ½ furlongs and will be stretched out again. He has been training at Belmont since mid-September.

“He’s a big horse, so I’m hoping the Belmont track will play to his favor,” Englehart said. “I look at the numbers and it’s comparable to a lot of others running throughout the country. We felt all along that he could do it, we’ll just see if he makes that step up in this start.”

Luis Saez will ride from post 8.

Coming off a one-length victory in his debut on August 26 at Saratoga, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Hazit will be making his first stakes appearance for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Hazit, a son of War Front, earned an 84 Beyer Speed Figure for his front-running effort at the Spa, outkicking Good Magic to win at 6 ½ furlongs.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do so far,” Pletcher said. “He trained very well all summer and I thought he was very professional in his debut. We’ve been pointing for this since then. He’s breezed well so we’re optimistic that he’ll continue moving forward and handle the stretch-out to a mile.

“He’s a little bit of an unassuming colt. He just goes about his business. All summer, every time we breezed him, he seemed to take a step up. He breezed well from the gate and gave us the impression that he’d run well in his debut and he did and subsequently he’s come back and trained really well.”

Hall of Famer John Velazquez will have the return call from post 11.

Good Magic, who earned an 82 Beyer in that runner-up effort in his first start, showed enough to warrant a step up in competition, trainer Chad Brown said.

“His number was good in his race,” Brown said. “His Ragozin was good, too and I use that as a tool. This horse is training really well. He looks like he’s going to move forward off that number. Whether it’s good enough or not, I’m not sure.”

Jose Ortiz will ride Good Magic for the first time from post 6.

Firenze Fire is the field’s only entrant to have a graded stakes win on his ledger, capturing the Grade 3 Sanford by a length over Free Drop Billy on July 22 at Saratoga. The Jason Servis trainee is coming off a fourth-place effort in the Hopeful and will once again face Grade 1 competition.

Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., who was aboard for both of his graded stakes start, will ride again in breaking from the outside post.

Servis will also saddle Full of Run, an impressive maiden winner on August 26 at Monmouth Park. Full of Run will have the services of Nik Juarez, who drew post 10.

Trainer Eric Guillot will saddle a pair of first-time stakes starters in Stronger and Master Manipulator.

Southern Equine Stable’s Stronger broke his maiden on August 27 at Saratoga, winning at one mile. Guillot said Stronger has been training well at Belmont, including a bullet five-furlong breeze in 59.06 seconds on Saturday, and boasted that the Bodemeister colt would finish strong in the Champagne.

“He’s working pretty impressively at this point. I couldn’t get him any better, he’s doing great,” Guillot said. “The reason I came here and not the Breeders’ Futurity in Kentucky is that the horses in that race have a little more experience at two turns. Stronger really wants to go two turns, but a lot of the bigger number horses are coming off sprints at Saratoga and have to prove they can get the one-turn mile. It could turn into a battle up front and the dragon-slayer will have to take the sword out and behead them at the wire.”

Manny Franco will exit post 3.

Master Manipulator will be seeking his first win in three starts, though Guillot blamed a poor trip for the Tale of the Cat colt’s second-place effort on September 17 at Gulfstream Park. Master Manipulator, who was second by a half-length at one mile in that race, breezed on Belmont’s main track Sunday in his first work since shipping from Palm Meadows Training Center.

“He should have won by five if you look back at it, easily. He’s developing into a really nice horse,” Guillot said. “If you want to see something intriguing, go back and watch the trip, because it was brutal. It’s worth watching. It’ll give you an idea why I came with a maiden, because he shouldn’t be a maiden.”

Looking for a better trip, jockey Angel Arroyo will have the call for the first time from post 5.

Rounding out the field is Honorable Treasure, for trainer Ken McPeek from post 9; Enticed, a maiden winner for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin on September 4 at Saratoga, who will break from post 4; Bahamian, looking for his first win in his third start for trainer Simon Callaghan out of post 7; Kowboy Karma, the runner-up finisher in the Sapling on September 2 at Monmouth Park for trainer Larry Jones in exiting the rail; and Blame It On Honey, making his first stakes appearance for trainer Anthony Farrior out of post 2.

The post Firenze Fire Tops 12 Promising Juveniles For G1 Champagne appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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