July 18, 2024

Champion Champagne Room headlines Bayakoa

Champagne Room 2016 Breeders' Cup
Champagne Room wearing the winner's garland after upsetting the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on Saturday, November 5, 2016 (c) Benoit Photos

Champagne Room was unable to continue her successful return to competition in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) when finishing sixth at Del Mar last out, but can still close out her sophomore campaign with a win in Sunday’s $200,000 Bayakoa Handicap (G2) at Los Alamitos.

The Broken Vow miss was honored as the champion two-year-old filly of 2016 after upsetting that year’s 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita Park. Champagne Room returned in February to finish third in the Las Virgenes Stakes (G2), but wouldn’t be seen in competition again until showing up to take the Remington Park Oaks on September 24 by 3 3/4 lengths.

The lightly raced Peter Eurton charge then tried the Distaff under returning rider Mario Gutierrez, and led for the opening half-mile before fading to be sixth under the wire. The bay filly still earned a career- and field-best 103 BRIS Speed rating for that effort and breaks from post 2 on Sunday.

Seven runners line up against Champagne Room in the Bayakoa, including Constellation, who is still seeking her first triumph of the year after posting a 5-0-4-0 mark thus far in 2017. Winner of last year’s La Brea Stakes (G1) to close out her sophomore season, the Bellamy Road filly proceeded to place in the Las Flores Stakes (G3), Madison Stakes (G1), Great Lady M Stakes (G2) and Rancho Bernardo Handicap (G3). All of that occurred while under the tutelage of Jerry Hollendorfer, and Constellation goes here with Drayden Van Dyke holding the reins after being eased and walked off in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) last out while making her debut for trainer Bob Baffert.

Madame Stripes is a Group 1 runner-up in her native Argentina, and has reputed herself well since shipping stateside and joining trainer Neil Drysdale’s shedrow a year ago. The Equal Stripes mare ran second in the Wilshire Stakes (G3) in July, captured the Osunitas Stakes 20 days later, finished third in the John C. Mabee Stakes (G2) in early September and just missed by a nose in the Swingtime Stakes on October 7. The five-year-old bay was a one-paced 11th in the Goldikova Stakes (G2) at Del Mar on Breeders’ Cup Saturday most recently, and will try to rebound here with Joe Talamo staying aboard.

Shenandoah Queen captured her stakes bow in the Tranquility Lake Stakes at Del Mar on August 25, and rallied from well back to be sixth in the November 4 Chilukki Stakes (G2) last out at Churchill Downs. The John Sadler-conditioned five-year-old boasts only 12 lifetime starts but has been in the top three in eight of those contests. Victor Espinoza, aboard for the Tranquility Lake, takes back the mount.

Majestic Heat is a three-time stakes winner, including a 3 1/4-length victory in the Betty Grable Stakes last out on November 12 at Del Mar, but has yet to break through with a graded placing despite coming close on past tries. Trained by Richard Mandella, the Unusual Heat mare was trying the main track for the first time in her 15-race career last out and will attempt to carry that winning form forward in this 1 1/16-mile affair. Mike Smith has the call.

Pacific Wind also scored while trying dirt for the first time last out. The Curlin sophomore placed in both the Honeymoon Stakes (G2) and Senorita Stakes (G3) earlier this year at Santa Anita Park, but was a 1 3/4-length winner against allowance/optional claiming rivals on October 21. The chestnut lass earned a career-best 98 BRIS Speed rating, and keeps Rafael Bejarano in the saddle for trainer Peter Eurton here.

Completing the Bayakoa field are stakes winner Street Surrender and dual stakes-placed Bernina Star.