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ELMONT, NY – Trainer Chad Brown’s impressive debut winner Jack Christopher sailed home victorious in his second start as well, defeating a stout group of juveniles in Saturday’s $500,000 Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park.
The Champagne is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Jack Christopher receiving an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar this November. Additionally, the Champagne is part of the Road to the 2022 Kentucky Derby prep race season that awards 10 points to the winner, 4 for second, 2 for third, and 1 for fourth.
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Jack Christopher broke from post 3 under Jose Ortiz as the 8/5 favorite in the field of six 2-year-old males and took back slightly in order to tip out and race in the clear down the backstretch.
Hopeful Stakes (G1) winner Gunite posted opening fractions of :23.57 and :46.49 before Jack Christopher ranged up to take the lead in the far turn.
Well in command at the top of the stretch, Jack Christopher drew off to win the one-turn fast dirt mile event by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:37.31, giving Ortiz and Brown their second Champagne team-up victory following Complexity in 2018.
“Jose had a feeling that … he would do something to try and get involved, and he was right,” said Brown. “A very quick decision he made – which was the right one – was to slip out to the outside right away and I think, from there, I felt super confident that we would get there with no excuse and he showed up.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher’s best finish from his trio of entries came courtesy of maiden Commandperformance, who rallied in the stretch to take second by 7 lengths over stablemates Wit and My Prankster.
Gunite and Kavod completed the order of finish.
Jack Christopher’s win followed a 6-furlong sprint victory by 8 3/4 lengths at Saratoga that earned him a 92 Beyer Speed Figure, best in the Champagne field. The Munnings colt, purchased for $135,000 as a yearling, has now banked $330,000 for co-owners Jim Bakke, Gerald Isbister, Coolmore, and Peter Brant.
“He was a horse that identified himself as early on as his first work,” said Brown, who also won the Champagne in 2016 with Practical Joke. “I was on the phone with the connections saying, ‘This is potentially a really good horse. I can’t believe what I just saw.’ He’s just been brilliant in every work. There was some buzz around him before he ran and he lived up to it.”
Jack Christopher returned $5.40 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.70 to show. Commandperformance brought back $7.10 to place and $3.10 to show. Wit paid $2.60 to show.
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