On Saturday at Belmont at the Big A, trainer Chad Brown’s Blazing Sevens closed down the middle of a soggy and wet main track to win by 3 1/4 lengths on route to a probable run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

The 151st Champagne, held at one mile on the main track for two-year-olds, functioned as a Breeders’ Cup “win and you’re in” event for the $2 million Juvenile, which is scheduled for Nov. 4 at Keeneland at 1 1/16 miles on dirt.

Blazing Seven’s Winning Debut

Blazing Sevens’ triumph in the Champagne wasn’t the most unlikely given his spectacularly outstanding debut at Saratoga Race Course on July 24, when he won by 6 1/4 lengths with an 85 Beyer Speed Figure. Nonetheless, it was an upset considering his distant third-place performance in the Hopeful (G1), which was raced in very similar wet-track circumstances on Sept. 5 at the Spa.

Because of that performance, bookmakers dismissed the son of Good Magic, winner of the 2017 Juvenile for Brown, and he was sent off as the co-longest shot on the board at 8-1, with slower debut winner Champions Dream.

“I was concerned,” Brown said. “After the Hopeful, I told the owners I was going to the Breeders’ Futurity (at Keeneland), and I called an audible after his performance last week.” I thought he was performing well and a legitimate Breeders’ Cup contender. I was itching to get him around two turns, but I’d rather have five weeks of relaxation than four.

So I opted to move him here, and sure enough, the storm blew in and made me ill for the past two days. I was already here, so I stayed, and happily, he managed the muck here today. I’m not sure whether that was a Saratoga thing last time. He didn’t race badly the previous time, he was simply not himself. He was going through wonderfully today.”


At first, the public’s disinterest in Blazing Sevens seemed prophetic. In wet circumstances, New York-bred Andiamo a Firenze broke first and led the race via respectable splits of 23.32 seconds for the first quarter-mile and 47.09 seconds for the half-mile, while Blazing Sevens lingered towards the rear of the field of six.

After three-quarters in 1:11.86, Andiamo a Firenze looked strong entering the stretch, but swiftly surrendered the lead to Verifying, who slid past the inside to take charge with Gulfport looming huge on his outside.

Blazing Sevens, meanwhile, forged his own path even wider on the track under Flavien Prat and took off in earnest after the top two, who had no answer for the dark bay colt in the last sixteenth as he drew off to a convincing score in a final time of 1:37.07.

“He had a nice trip,” Prat remarked. “He had a good start and pulled himself into the race.” I was making good time on the backside and decided to dip in and attempt to make up some distance. He was doing extremely good all the way around, and when I tipped him out and he switched leads, he really shifted gears.”

Blazing Sevens, owned by Rodeo Creek Racing, returned $19 on a $2 win bet and raised his earnings to $368,750. Brown earned his fourth Champagne with his second win in three races.

“It’s really a great reward since he (Good Magic) was unfortunate in the (2017) Champagne,” Brown remarked. “I genuinely believed he was incredibly unfortunate. That his kid was able to get his head in front of the Champagne and win was some good karma for us today.

He’s been a great horse to work with. He’s a gentleman. I’d want to thank Pete Bradley for recommending him, as well as the proprietors, John and Carla Capek. This is their second year owning horses, and they’re wonderful people who deserve it. If he’s healthy, he’ll run in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Verifying, trained by Brad Cox, finished second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Gulfport, who finished third. Verifying, like the winner, won his debut on Aug. 27 at the Spa with an 85 Beyer and was just making his second start in the Champagne. Gulfport, on the other hand, has established a predilection for winning small NYRA races, including a pair of runner-up performances in the Hopeful and Saratoga Special (G2).

Champions Dream finished fourth, 4 1/4 lengths ahead of Andiamo a Firenze, who was followed home by Top Recruit.

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