April 23, 2024

Complexity sharp in Champagne but longer distances a concern

Complexity, who led wire-to-wire in the Champagne (G1) and runner-up Code to Honor (green silks) are expected to return for the November 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (C) Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese

Complexity rolled to a three-length victory in the Champagne (G1) at Belmont and will bring plenty of speed to the November 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs. The talented colt picked up 10 points as well after leading wire-to-wire in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifier.

Trained by Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz, the same combination of champion two-year-old and Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic, Complexity is campaigned by Klaravich Stables, who is perhaps best-known for co-owning 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing.

“We have to talk about him now,” Ortiz said. “He won a Grade 1 with the best 2-year-olds we have in New York, and now we have to go compete in the Breeders’ Cup with the ones in California and Kentucky and everywhere else. The way he did it was very easy and we’re happy with his performance.”

Complexity registered an excellent 99 BRIS Speed rating, establishing himself as the probable second choice to Game Winner in the Juvenile. The bay colt has dominated the competition in a pair of starts, jumping straight from a smashing debut maiden win at Saratoga to the Champagne, but he’s yet to try two turns.

Brown was bullish on Complexity’s skill level but not so confident about longer distances after the one-turn mile Champagne.

“He’s just so strong, an outstanding talent,” Brown said. “He’s just a rare horse. Obviously, we’re going to the Breeders’ Cup if he comes back sound and healthy. We’ll try and run two turns, which will be another question mark. It’s another sixteenth of a mile, but he’s a class horse. Jose gets along with him well, and hopefully he’ll get a good trip (in the Juvenile).”

Complexity is clearly ahead of the curve presently and may be able to negotiate the Juvenile’s 1 1/16-mile trip with his speed. But the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby distance will be a different ballgame next spring. He shares the same sire, Maclean’s Music, as Cloud Computing but that’s where the pedigree similarities come to a screeching halt. Cloud Computing is from a mare by A.P. Indy, sire of classic winners Bernardini and Rags to Riches as well as Horse of the Year Mineshaft. A.P. Indy also serves as the broodmare sire of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver.

Complexity hails from a mare by Grade 1-winning sprinter Yes It’s True, who is best known at stud for producing champion female sprinter La Verdad and multiple Grade 1-winning sprinter The Big Beast. It’s unrealistic to imagine Yes It’s True being prominent in the pedigree of a Triple Crown race winner.

Code of Honor enhanced his Kentucky Derby credentials recording a troubled second in the Champagne. A wire-to-wire debut winner at Saratoga, the colt appeared to hit his head on the track when stumbling badly leaving the starting gate and raced in last through the opening quarter-mile. That wasn’t where connections expected to be but Code of Honor rallied well to reach second by midstretch and wound up three lengths clear of third.

“He stumbled pretty bad coming out of there. I had to go to Plan B,” jockey Eric Cancel said. “I had to sit on the horse and just try to get him comfortable and make one move. The horse ran awesome to be honest. He gave me his all. He kept on going and we just couldn’t run down the winner, but he never stopped. He kept on trying and trying.”

Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Shug McGaughey said Code of Honor exited the Champagne in good order and the gray colt rates a big chance if he returns for the Juvenile in my estimation. From the first crop of Noble Mission, a full brother to leading European racehorse and sire Frankel, Code of Honor is out of a mare by Dixie Union, sire of Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags.