by Teresa Genaro
Breaking from post 4 under jockey Jose Ortiz, the bay colt established an easy lead in the one-mile race on the fast dirt track, and that’s where he stayed. Unchallenged through fractions of :22.51 and :45.31, he opened up at will coming around the final turn, the jockey taking a quick peek back for competition that never threatened.
“He went fast and easy,” Ortiz said. “I thought I was going :23, :46 and 4, :47. When I came back, I couldn’t believe he went :22 and :45.”
Code of Honor, who stumbled badly at the break, was second, with Call Paul, winner of the Saratoga Special (G2), in third.
Striding swiftly from the winner’s circle to try to watch his runners in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland, Brown characterized Complexity as a “rare, exceptional horse.”
“He’s just so strong,” said the trainer, who also won the Beldame (G1) earlier on Belmont’s Saturday card. “His pedigree may not limit how far he can go. To have the speed he has and carry it is impressive.”
The Champagne is both a points race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, awarding Complexity 10 points toward a starting berth in the 2019 Run for the Roses, and a “Win & You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs on November 2.
“Obviously we’re going to the Breeders’ Cup if he comes back sound and healthy,” said Brown.
Sired by Maclean’s Music, Complexity was bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings and is out of the unraced Yes It’s True mare Goldfield. He is a half-brother to Valadorna, runner-up in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and winner of the Doubledogdare Stakes (G3) at Keeneland in April. A few hours before the Champagne, she finished fifth in the First Lady (G1) at Keeneland.
Complexity was purchased at last year’s Keeneland September sale for $375,000 by Klaravich Stables. Klaravich and Brown teamed up two years ago to win the Champagne with Practical Joke, who would go on to win the Dwyer Stakes (G1) and H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) as a sophomore.
Selected by Mike Ryan at the Keeneland sale, Complexity was sent back to Stonestreet for his early training, arriving at Brown’s this spring.
“Ian Brennan did a great job,” Brown said. “He was in fantastic shape and really well-prepared. This is a real great example of teamwork.”
Complexity broke his maiden by 4 1/4 lengths in his debut on closing day at Saratoga. Ortiz was also in the saddle that day.
“He’s gotten along really with this horse,” Brown said of the jockey.
“I’ve been working with him all summer in Saratoga,” Ortiz said. “It’s very special when you’ve been working with them and they come out and do this.”