2012 Belmont Juvenile Championships: Preview and picks

Al Bello - Getty Images

A look at the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes and Grade 1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday

With just four weeks until the 2012 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita, time is running out for horses to make a case for inclusion in the biggest racing weekend of the year. On Saturday, Belmont Park will card three Grade 1 races including a pair of juvenile championships: the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes and Grade 1 Frizette Stakes.

Let's take a look at the Champagne and the Frizette.

Grade 1 Champagne Stakes
Distance/Surface: 1 Mile, Dirt
Conditions: Two-year-olds
Breeders' Cup Challenge Division: Juvenile

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

The odds are strong that it's going to be the Todd Pletcher Show at Belmont Park on Saturday afternoon. The super trainer has three of the seven horses in the field, including standouts 2-Shanghai Bobby (3/1), 4-Archwarrior (5/2) and 7-Micromanage (5/1).

Shanghai Bobby is three for three and was the stylish winner of the Grade 2 Hopeful at Saratoga in his last start. As a son of Harlan's Holiday should have the stamina to get the one mile journey and his off-track pedigree could make him a strong play if the track is wet on Saturday.

Archwarrior is taking a big step up in class with just a single maiden breaking victory to his name. This colt has been the subject of a lot of chatter among players and the Twitterati over the last couple of month but, despite the hype, he'll have a much tougher task in this spot.

Doug O'Neill's 1-Goldenscents (3/1) put up a huge performance in his debut at Del Mar back on Sept. 2, but he's stretching out from 5 1/2 furlongs to a mile and he'll be trying dirt for the first time after running over Del Mar's Polytrack surface. The Champagne will be a stern test for this California invader.

The Pick

Shanghai Bobby at 3/1 could be an absolute steal if he can stretch his class an additional furlong. His foundation is much better than any of the other colts in this race and he's already displayed an ability to run a big number. In his last two races, Shanghai Bobby raced both on and just off the lead, a versatile running style that will come in handy in this race.

Grade 1 Frizette Stakes
Distance/Surface: 1 Mile, Dirt
Conditions: Two-year-olds, Fillies
Breeders' Cup Challenge Division: Juvenile Fillies

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

When a horse is 2/5 on the morning line, that usually suggests some serious talent is going to jump of the page of your racing form. In Saturday's Frizette, that talent is 7-Dreaming of Julia, a sparkling daughter of A. P. Indy trained by (who else?) Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez. Dreaming of Julia has run twice in her career, winning both races by a combined 26 3/4 lengths. 26 3/4.

The Pick

Unless you're planning on dumping $10,000 on Dreaming of Julia, there's really no reason to play this filly given her ridiculously small odds. If we're looking for value, 5-Sweet Shirley Mae (8/1) fits the bill. She was second in the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga in her last start and she's got room to improve after racing greenly that day. She's shown an ability to sit off the pace which may work to her advantage if by some chance 2-My Happy Face (4/1) and 3-Roveing Patrol (20/1) are able to get Dreaming of Julia into a speed duel.

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