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October 8 Belmont Breeders' Cup Preps


2005 Champagne Stakes at Belmont First Samurai

First Samurai in the winner's circle after the 2005 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.

Walter Pitcher

October 9, 2005

Visually, it was an odd-looking race. But trainer Frank Brothers and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey are more than happy with the result of Saturday's 134th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne for two-year-olds at a mile.

Bailey brought home the Brothers-trained First Samurai a 2 3/4 length winner to the delight of 4,201 fans who braved the rainy weather to watch the Giant's Causeway colt win his second Grade 1 race, run his unbeaten record to 4-0 and establish himself as the favorite for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile at a mile and a sixteenth here on Saturday, October 29th as part of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

The race began with First Samurai, breaking from post 7, hustled to the lead, quickly falling back to fourth and then chasing a ridiculous speed duel between Too Much Bling, racing with blinkers for the first time, and second-choice Henny Hughes through fractions of :21; :43 3/5 and 1:08 2/5 over the sloppy/sealed surface. Bailey did what he was supposed to, which was give his mount plenty of room, come outside of his biggest rival, Henny Hughes, at the quarter-pole and stroll by as the other tired. First Samurai hit the finish in 1:36 1/5.

"I was concerned with him lugging in there and `would he rate?,'" Bailey said. "He struggled a bit with the track, but it didn't surprise me. He is a big, heavy horse. I didn't think he would bounce through it the first time. "

"I thought he was much more professional today," said Brothers. "Maybe the homework we did with him helped him. He rated a little bit today, and Jerry (Bailey) said he ran very straight. That's what we were looking for. You always like the outside, but racing is racing. You have to take what you can get. You're not going to get many strolls in the park from here on out, so you've got to learn to take a little adversity. He didn't have much (adversity) today, but it was nice to be on the outside."

Results chart for the Champagne from DRF

Adieu handled a sloppy/sealed track for the first time in her career Saturday afternoon and became a Grade 1 winner to boot, as she drew off from Along the Sea to score a two-length victory in the 58th running of the $500,000 Frizette for two-year-old fillies at a mile.

The El Corredor filly has now won four of five starts for trainer Todd Pletcher and looms a serious foe in the Grade 1, $1 million Albert VO5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at a mile and a sixteenth as part of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park on Saturday, October 29th.

Heckuva Rush broke sharp from the outside, but Adieu was hustled up the rail to the front to confront Mykindasaint. Adieu backed off to let Mykindasaint set a pace of :22 1/5; :45 1/5 and 1:10 4/5. Adieu made a move on the turn, but it seemed a long time before she finally claimed the lead. When Along the Sea made a challenge, Adieu responded to jockey JohnVelazquez and went on to win in 1:38. Favored by the crowd of 4,201, Adieu returned $5.20 to win.

"We were concerned with the inside post," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "The strategy was to have her break well, let her run away from there. Wayne's filly (Mykindasaint, trained by D. Wayne Lukas) looked to be the speed of the race. We were trying to move outside of her and get outside position. Fortunately, it worked out well."

Results chart for the Frizette from DRF

Rain ruined what looked to be a competitive 56th running of Saturday's Jamaica Handicap for three-year-olds at nine furlongs on the turf. The race was switched to the main track and all but three of the nine entered were scratched. Mud loving Watchmon won like a favorite should and posted a 1 3/4 length victory in the slop over Crown Point. Both Watchmon and Crown Point were entered for the main track only.

Watchmon stayed close to Woodlander through splits of :24 2/5; :47 1/5; 1:11 1/5 and 1:36 over the sloppy/sealed track, easily taking the lead as Woodlander wilted. Crown Point mounted a rally, but was already under a drive before jockey Javier Castellano asked Watchmon for any effort.

Watchmon came home in 1:49 1/5, for his fourth win in nine starts and his third in four tries over a wet surface. More importantly, he grabbed $180,000 of the $300,000 purse.

"This was an easy race for him," Castellano said. "He only had to run against two horses. Pat (Reynolds) wants to run him back soon and to take it easy on him. He had something left in the tank."

Results chart for the Jamaica from DRF

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