by Teresa Genaro
The bay filly by Street Sense has been, as co-owner Randy Bloch put it, “knocking on the door” in her last few races, placing in two graded contests at Gulfstream Park, and finally getting the elusive win in Saturday’s Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).
Racing in blinkers for the first time and breaking from post 5 under regular rider Chris Landeros, Champagne Anyone sat just off pacesetter Cookie Dough through most of the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track. Coming around the final turn, Champagne Anyone challenged a stubborn Cookie Dough, finally putting her away inside the eighth-pole and holding off a late-charging Dunbar Road, who was sent to the post as the 6-5 favorite.
Trained by Ian Wilkes, Champagne Anyone was the third betting choice at 7-1.
“She’s so naturally gifted,” Landeros said. “She still doesn’t know when to completely lay it down. But today’s a big step forward, and I think the best is yet to come for her.”
“I think the blinkers made her more tractable in the race,” Wilkes said. “She’s a filly who doesn’t like Chris to ask her to be in the race. I had to do something to where she took Chris into the race. That’s the idea with the blinkers: to get her to travel more and not dislike what Chris was doing on her.”
The race carried 170 qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks, divided among the top four finishers, 100-40-20-10 respectively. Champagne Anyone added 100 points to the 13 points she had already earned, vaulting her to #1 on the Oaks Leaderboard.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Bloch, who owns Champagne Anyone in partnership with Six Column Stables LLC. “We knew she was nice. We thought she was stakes caliber and she proved herself today.”
Champagne Anyone, who was bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC and is out of the unraced Ghostzapper mare Lucevan, was purchased by partner John Seiler at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale for $70,000. With the Gulfstream Park Oaks win, she has earned $267,950 and shows a career mark of 7-3-0-3.
“We need to thank Barbara for this one,” Bloch said in reference to Stonestreet’s Barbara Banke.
They also credit Wilkes and Carl Nafzger, the trainer of Street Sense, winner of the 2007 Kentucky Derby.
“We’re kind of biased, because of Carl’s and Ian’s experiences with Street Sense,” Bloch said. “We’ve had our experiences with some of his runners, too, and we try to check all the Street Sense (progeny) we can. We’re big believers.”
And why not? When a win on the last Saturday in March means a start at Churchill Downs on the first Friday in May, a celebration is in order. Surely, Champagne Anyone’s connections would drink to that.