Champagne Stakes: By the numbers
There is no juvenile race in the United States with a more storied past than the Champagne S. (G1). Here is a look at some of that history by the numbers.
The fastest time the Champagne has been run over at one mile. It came in 1983, via Devil’s Bag, one of the highest-rated juveniles in U.S. racing history.
He arrived at the Champagne off three easy victories, went straight to the front, and wasn’t headed, as he drew away in the stretch to win by six lengths. The previous record time, 1:34 2/5, was held by Seattle Slew.
Much was expected of Devil’s Bag at age three, but after three wins from four starts ahead of the Triple Crown, he was retired because of a knee fracture.
The number of Champagne victors to win the Triple Crown — Count Fleet (1942) and Seattle Slew (1976).
Three other Triple Crown winners finished second in the Champagne — Omaha (1935), Secretariat (1972), and Affirmed (1977).
Secretariat was first past the post by four lengths, but was disqualified for interfering with Stop The Music, and the Champagne was one of three occasions in 10 attempts that Alydar overcame Affirmed.
The number of consecutive years that jockey Braulio Baeza won the Champagne in the 1960s.
The Panamanian began his dominance aboard Bold Lad in 1964, then reeled off victories with Buckpasser (1965), Successor (1966, against Dr. Fager), and Vitriolic (1967).
The jockey added another Champagne victory aboard Honest Pleasure in 1975.
Champagne winners who have gone on to take the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), since the latter was inaugurated in 1984, a lower number than may have been expected, considering how important the Champagne has been over the years.
Fly So Free was the first to complete the double in 1990, followed by Timber Country (1994), War Pass (2007), Uncle Mo (2010), and Shanghai Bobby (2012).
The distance of the Champagne, in furlongs, though that hasn’t always been the case.
It was a six-furlong contest from 1871 to 1890, seven furlongs from 1891 to 1904, 165 feet short of seven furlongs from 1905 to 1932, and then 6 1/2 furlongs from 1933 to 1939.
Since 1940, it has been run at one mile, except in 1984, when it was nine furlongs (1 1/8 miles), and 1994 to 2004, when it was 8 1/2 furlongs (1 1/16 miles).
The margin, in lengths, that Seattle Slew had over his rivals in the 1976 Champagne.
The Bold Reasoning colt had shown his talent, with easy victories at Belmont Park at six furlongs and seven furlongs, and started a 1.30-1 favorite.
Taken straight to the front by Jean Cruguet, Seattle Slew was challenged on the final turn but drew away in the stretch.
Eight months later, he became the first horse to win the Triple Crown undefeated.
The number of Champagne winners who went on to win a leg of the Triple Crown.
In addition to Triple Crown winners Count Fleet and Seattle Slew, three horses — Capot, Riva Ridge, and Spectacular Bid — won two legs of the Triple Crown.
The only three Champagne winners to take a Triple Crown race this century all won the Belmont S. (G1) — Birdstone, Union Rags, and Tiz The Law.
The others on the honor roll are Timber Country, Sea Hero, Easy Goer, Foolish Pleasure, Alsab, Mate, Bubbling Over, Grey Lag, Colin, Plaudit, Ben Brush, and Azra.
The year the Champagne was first run.
That makes it as old as the Belmont S. and older than the Preakness S. (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1).
Named after the English race of the same name, the Champagne quickly became an important juvenile target.
First run at Jerome Park Racetrack and then at Morris Park Racecourse, it moved to Belmont in 1905.
The last year the Kentucky Derby was won by a Champagne winner. That was Sea Hero, whose Churchill Downs victory at 13-1 meant his owner, Paul Mellon, became the first person to race winners of the Kentucky Derby, Epsom Derby (G1), and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1).
Sea Hero, in the hands of Jerry Bailey, won the Champagne by 5 3/4 lengths for trainer MacKenzie Miller.