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Havana and Irad Ortiz Jr. walk down Victory Lane after winning the Champagne.
Belmont Park hosted three Grade 1 events on Saturday afternoon before just 5,910 fans under sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70's, two of which are Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" qualifiers in the 2-year-old dirt divisions.
Havana leads down the stretch
20-1 Debt Ceiling battled for the early lead with Havana and 14-1 Grand Arrival down the backstretch through fractions of 22.87 and 45.54 over the fast track. Entering the stretch, Havana took over the lead through 3/4 in 1:10.12, and opened up a 4 1/2 length advantage at the 1/8 pole. Honor Code, last early, put in a strong rally down the center of the track but Havana held him off by a neck in 1:35.81. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to 17-1 Ride On Curlin third.
# Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Havana Ortiz Jr. 7.20 3.80 3.30 5 Honor Code Castellano 3.20 2.90 2 Ride On Curlin Solis 5.90 Winning Time: 1:35.81 $2 Exacta 3-5 42.80 $2 Trifecta 3-5-2 176.00 $2 Superfecta 3-5-2-1 1,312.00Results Chart Past winners of the Champagne
Left: Havana in the winner's circle. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "They were throwing down some pretty solid fractions and he was in a bit of a difficult spot because he was inside. I thought we were going to be up close; I wasn't sure if anyone would be in front of us. I thought there was a couple that could press us. I think Irad did a good job of not giving up that position but not forcing it too much, either. He found himself three in front at the 1/4 pole when Debt Ceiling fell off. I could see the other horse revving up and I knew he had a big run from Saratoga. I was hoping we'd have enough to hold on."
Right: Havana heads back to the barn after the race.
Left: Havana in the paddock. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "In the first part I thought they were going too fast, so I waited a little bit. I had a couple horses beside me, so I had to use him a little earlier than I wanted. He got the lead early, but he was ready. When I asked him, he picked it up. He got a little tired at the end a little bit, but he was still running. He was perfect all the way. Thanks to the regular jockey, John Velazquez, he told me how to ride the horse, and it worked out."
Right: Havana in the post parade.
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Honor Code in the paddock before the race. Jockey Javier Castellano said, "He put in a very strong effort in the last part of the race. I had to go wide, and it cost me a little bit. I'm really happy with the way he did it. I got beat today, but I think he has a great future. He's a big horse, and it takes him a while to build momentum in the beginning of the race. After that, he begins to pick it up. The pace set up perfectly."
Right: Third place finisher Ride On Curlin in the paddock. The 17-1 shot raced 8th under jockey Alex Solis then rallied to get third beaten 1 3/4 lengths. The Bill Gowan trainee improved his record to 1 win, 1 second, and 1 third in 4 starts, earning $84,929 for owner Dan Dougherty.
Artemis Agrotera leads down the stretch
Jockey Luis Saez sent 12-1 Tea Time to the lead down the backstretch and she set fractions of 23.30, 47.41, and 1:11.81 while stalked by Artemis Agrotera. At the top of the stretch, Tea Time tired allowing Artemis Agrotera to inherit the lead. Sweet Reason, seventh early after a poor start, put in a strong rally but Artemis Agrotera cruised past the post 1 1/4 ;engths in front in 1:36.25. It was another 2 3/4 lengths back to Stopchargingmaria third.
# Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Artemis Agrotera Lezcano 10.60 4.00 2.60 1 Sweet Reason Solis 2.40 2.10 4 Stopchargingmaria Castellano 2.30 Winning Time: 1:36.25 $2 Exacta 2-1 22.00 $2 Trifecta 2-1-4 53.00 $2 Superfecta 2-1-4-6 297.00Results Chart Past winners of the Frizette
Left: Artemis Agrotera takes her walk down Victory Lane. Trainer Mike Hushion said, "I said to Jose, 'Be careful she just doesn't run off the first part of it.' If he tapped her once on the shoulder, she'd be gone, and he didn't. I saw (Sweet Reason) coming, but watching as many races as I have over this track, I knew at the 1/16 pole (Sweet Reason) had her work cut out for her and we were in good position."
Right: Artemis Agrotera in the winner's circle.
Left: Artemis Agrotera returns after the race. Jockey Jose Lezcano said, "She broke good, put herself in position, and when I asked her, she took off and won the race. She acted very, very professional today. She did everything right in the gate and in the race, and did the job."
Right: Artemis Agrotera heads back to the barn after the race.
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Sweet Reason wasn't very sweet in the paddock. Trainer Leah Gyarmati said, "It was a remarkable race. Obviously, she didn't get a very good start. She's already a horse that's going to be back a little bit, so it cost us probably five, six lengths. She proved she could handle a fast track, she was six wide, and she spotted the field several lengths at the start, so I'm very impressed with her. She certainly proved that she could overcome a lot of adversity, plus she can handle a fast track, which is what everybody's question was"
Right: Third place finisher Stopchargingmaria in the post parade. The 3-1 second choice raced in third early under jockey Javier Castellano, but could not improve late finishing third beaten 4 lengths. The Todd Pletcher trainee improved her record to 1 win, 1 second, and 1 third in 3 starts, earning $158,000 for owner Mike Repole.
Up With the Birds (outside) rallies down the stretch in the Jamaica Handicap
Get in Line went to the lead first time by and set easy fractions of 25.34, 49.98, and 1:13.76 over the firm course while stalked by 24-1 Joha. On the far turn, Get in Line tired badly and faded to last, allowing Joha to inherit the lead through 1 mile in 1:37.28. Up With the Birds, 8th early, came out 4 wide for room and took over the lead at the 1/16 pole, and held off late-running Admiral Kitten by 1/2 a length in 1:48.74. It was another 1/2 length back to Jack Milton third.
# Horse Jockey Win Place Show 11 Up With the Birds Velasquez 10.20 5.30 3.50 1 Admiral Kitten Napravnik 4.70 3.00 5 Jack Milton Lezcano 3.30 Winning Time: 1:48.74 $2 Exacta 11-1 49.50 $2 Trifecta 11-1-5 179.50Results Chart Past winners of the Jamaica
Left: Up With the Birds walks down Victory Lane led by owner Rick Balaz of Sam-Son Farm. Trainer Malcolm Pierce said, "I was a little worried that they were going a little too slow up front, and we were eight or nine lengths out of it, but he's a nice horse and he kicked when he asked him. You've got to give the jock a lot of credit and the horse a lot of credit. After he won the Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine, the owners all got together. This is a big step up from running against Canadian-breds in a Grade 1 in New York, but we said, 'What the heck. Let's give it a try.' He deserved this chance. He's run hard all year. He's going home for a rest now after this race."
Right: Up With the Birds in the winner's circle.
Up With the Birds in the paddock. Velasquez said, "I wanted to try and save ground, but there was a lot of traffic on the inside. I followed Notacatbutallama around the turn and once I got him to the outside, he gave me a good run. (Admiral Kitten) was coming on, but my horse dug in. He's a nice horse."
Right: Up With the Birds returns after the race.
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Admiral Kitten behind the starting gate. Jockey Rosie Napravnik said, "He ran excellent. The pace was absolutely pedestrian. He's the kind of horse that you can't change his running style. He just lags around the first turn and makes a big run. He ran huge."
Right: Third place finisher Jack Milton in the post parade. The 9-2 third choice raced 9th early under jockey Jose Lezcano then rallied to get third beaten 1 length. The Todd Pletcher trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 1 second, and 4 thirds in 7 starts, earning $293,250 for owner Gary Barber.
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