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2016 champagne stakes preview entries and odds


The G1 Champagne Stakes will be run Saturday, October 8 at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. Some of the best two year olds around will take to Belmont Park's dirt track and race one mile for the winner's share of the $500,000 purse.

A quality group of six juveniles will line up in the Champagne Stakes - race 8 on Belmont Park's packed Saturday schedule. Post time is 4:13 PM. Let's take a look into the past performances of all six entries for this G1 stakes - a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

2016 Champagne Stakes Race Preview at Belmont Park

Syndergaard 9-5 - Todd Pletcher trained colt has won both of his career starts thus far - a nice maiden score at first asking at Saratoga August 8 was followed by a good 10 1/4 length win in his stakes debut - the 6 1/2 furlong minor Funny Cide Stakes on that track August 26 - a race that produced a field-best 90 Beyer Speed Figure. Syndergaard hasn't been touched so far and looks like a threat ahead of his graded stakes debut. John Velazquez has been tabbed to ride the morning line favorite from post 3.

Favorable Outcome 2-1 - will race for the second time for trainer Chad Brown having posted a nice six length win in his only career start - a six furlong race at Saratoga August 20. He tries to make it two-for-two Saturday when he leaves from post 5 with Javier Castellano in the saddle of the second betting choice.

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Practical Joke 4-1 - Chad Brown trained colt has two career starts and two good wins - by five lengths as favorite in a six furlong maiden race at Saratoga August 6 and the G1 Hopeful Stakes by a game neck last time out on that track September 5. He has been very good so far and looks to make it three straight to start his career - from the rail with Joel Rosario aboard the morning line third choice.

Big Gray Rocket 6-1 - has a win and a second place finish in two career starts for trainer Bob Baffert. He makes his stakes debut Saturday off a maiden score by an impressive 6 3/4 lengths at Del Mar September 5 after a second on that track in his debut August 13. Big Gray Rocket looks ready for his step up in competition and will depart from the outside gate 6 with Mike Smith guiding him.

Lookin At Blessing 12-1 - Nick Zito trained colt has a win and a third place finish in three career starts. He makes his stakes debut Saturday off a maiden score - on this track September 11 after a third and a seventh in MSW races at Saratoga this past summer. Lookin At Blessing has improved every time out and hopes to do so again from gate 4. Irad Ortiz rides.

Thirst for Victory 15-1 - intriguing Todd Pletcher trained colt will saddle up for just the second time in his career having posted a nice win in his only action so far - by three lengths at Saratoga August 13. He was impressive in his first start and hopes to be so again in his step up in competition from gate 2.

Wimbledon 2017 federer epic proves he can still be an sw19 favourite




There are very few Sunday mornings when you're glad of it pouring with rain, but yesterday was one of them.

Back home from getting drowned walking the dog, what else was there to do but settle down and watch Roger Federer play Rafael Nadal?

You could call it a wallow in nostalgia, I suppose. We talked about their epic Wimbledon final of 2008 when five sets spread across nearly as many hours on court lasted until deep into the evening because of several rain delays. But we ended up witnessing a contest that matched that for drama every inch of the way.

But by the time Federer had sealed his 18th Grand Slam title you realised that, even at 35, the Swiss maestro was still very much a man of the present and not the past. And as for Nadal, well he's been around so long it's easy to forget he's only 11 months older than Andy Murray.

It was one of those mornings when I cursed myself for not having put more than a couple of pounds on Federer when at the end of December I picked him out as a value bet at [30.0]. But who really believed that after six months out with a knee injury he could hit such heights again?

The question now is what does the performance of both Federer and Nadal mean for the rest of the year? Just when we thought both of them could be consigned to the history books, they are both hugely relevant again.

In Nadal's case, it had seemed that the strains, twists and turns to which he'd subjected his body over the years had taken their toll. A game based on long rallies, never stopping running, always asking the other man to take one more shot, had driven him into the ground.

But the way he bounced back from an incredible five-hour semi-final to fight through another match that went the distance proved he is far from finished. Matched at one time as long as [25.0] to win this year's French Open, by this morning his odds had crashed to [3.75].

As for Federer, well he now has to be taken seriously again as a potential Wimbledon winner. Yes, he'll be a couple of weeks from his 36th birthday by then, but he's just shown how carefully planned rehab and fitness work can make a nonsense of those years.

He also showed he can help himself by making cynical use of the rules, taking a five-minute medical time-out after losing the fourth set. But bearing in mind those rules will still be in place in the summer, then at [8.2] Federer looks value to find his 19th Grand Slam on the green grass of SW19.

Murray and Novak Djokovic are joint favourites at [3.1], and of course we all thought we should be seeing one of the younger breed emerge as a contender.

But on a rainy January morning Federer, and Nadal, have reminded us that their time is not yet over. And if they keep serving up tennis of that breathtaking quality then we should hope they stay around for a good deal longer yet.