June 12, 2024

Blazing Sevens rallies in Champagne, Pleasant Passage makes all in Miss Grillo

Blazing Sevens wins the Champagne Stakes (Photo by Janet Garaguso/Coglianese Photos)

Blazing Sevens will look to replicate the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) success of his first-crop sire, 2017 champion Good Magic, next month following an off-the-pace victory in Saturday’s $500,000 Champagne S. (G1) at Aqueduct.

Although beaten 12 lengths in the Hopeful (G1) over a sloppy track in his most recent start, Blazing Sevens handled similar footing just find in the Champagne. The trailer after a quarter-mile, Blazing Sevens made steady advancement into contention, collared Verifying inside the final furlong and opened up late to win by 3 1/4 lengths under Flavien Prat.

“I was worried. After the Hopeful, I told the owners I was planning on going to the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and I called an audible last week after his work,” trainer Chad Brown said. “I felt like he was doing so well and a legit Breeders’ Cup candidate. I was dying to get him around two turns, but I would rather have the five weeks’ rest and not four. So I decided to ship him here and, sure enough, the hurricane came north and I was sick over it the last two days. I was already committed here, so I stuck with it and thankfully, he handled the mud here today.”

Owned by Rodeo Creek Racing, Blazing Sevens completed one mile in 1:37.07 and paid $19 as the 8-1 longest shot in the field of six. Verifying, a Justify half-brother to champion mare Midnight Bisou, finished second by 1 1/2 lengths over 1.55-1 favorite Gulfport. The strung-out order of finish was completed by pacesetter Andiamo a Firenze, Champions Dream, and Top Recruit.

Not only did Blazing Sevens earn a free berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland, but also secured 10 qualifying points toward the 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1). Verifying earned four points, Gulfport three points, Andiamo a Firenze two points, and Champions Dream one point.

Blazing Sevens has now won two of three starts. His distant third to Forte in the Hopeful was preceded by a 6 1/4-length debut score over six furlongs at Saratoga on July 24, and he’s now bankrolled $368,530.

“He’s looking for two turns, this horse. I can’t wait to get him around two turns; you just need everything to go right,” Brown said. “He’s got some time with five weeks. We have to get through a lot of hurdles, he needs to ship good, get a good post and all those things. This isn’t our first rodeo, so hopefully he can emulate his daddy and cap off a championship year with a win in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Bred in Kentucky by Tracy Farmer, Blazing Sevens was sold for $225,000 at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga. He was produced by Trophy Girl, a Warrior’s Reward half-sister to Grade 1 turf performer King David.

Miss Grillo S. (G2)

The front end was a good place to be on Aqueduct’s yielding turf courses Saturday, as Pleasant Passage made all in the $200,000 Miss Grillo S. (G2), a Breeders’ Cup Challenge prep for next month’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Keeneland.

Sent off at 9-1 following a photo-finish debut win at Saratoga on Aug. 21, Pleasant Passage led by no more than a length over second choice Free Look throughout the 1 1/16-mile journey and repelled a bid from that rival to win by three parts of a length under Irad Ortiz Jr. She covered the distance over the inner turf in 1:45.25 and paid $21.20.

Pleasant Passage wins the Miss Grillo Stakes (Photo by Joe Labozzetta/Coglianese Photos)

“She ran well in her first start from a little off the pace coming up the rail. She was very professional,” said Shug McGaughey, who trains the daughter of More Than Ready for owner-breeder Emory Hamilton. “Today, there wasn’t any speed in the race and she had trained sharp off her last race. Irad let her do her thing when she broke and he rode a good race on her.”

Runner-up Free Look has a two-length advantage over 6-5 favorite Be Your Best, who couldn’t make an impact from behind in the testing conditions. The order of finish was rounded out by Alluring Angel, Im Just Kiddin, and Georgees Spirit.

The Kentucky-bred Pleasant Passage has now bankrolled $167,750. She was produced by Peaceful Passage, a War Front half-sister to multiple Grade 2 winner Hungry Island (who was by More Than Ready) and the Grade 3-winning Soaring Empire. Also hailing from this female family is current Grade 1 older star Olympiad and Woodward (G1) winner Preservationist.