Champagne Room favored in Bayakoa Handicap

Profile Picture: Alastair Bull

December 1st, 2017

Sixth in a high-quality edition of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), Champagne Room is seeking some compensation in the 1 1/16-mile Bayakoa Handicap (G2) at Los Alamitos Dec. 3.

Champagne Room won the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old filly last year after taking the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), but she has had an abbreviated 2017. Third in the Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) behind Unique Bella at Santa Anita Feb. 5, she didn’t run again until she won the Remington Park Oaks Sept. 24.

On the strength of that run she took her place in the Distaff but found Forever Unbridled and company too strong, finishing sixth of eight. This should be a much easier task.

Her toughest rival in terms of proven class is also backing up from a disappointing Breeders’ Cup effort. Constellation won the La Brea Stakes (G1) last December at Santa Anita, and this year had four starts leading into the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1), finishing second in each. They included the Madison Stakes (G1) at Keeneland and the Rancho Bernardo Handicap (G3) at Del Mar Aug. 13.

The big question around Constellation, along with whether she’s at her best after the Filly and Mare Sprint, is how she will handle racing past seven furlongs.

None of the other six runners have won at graded stakes level. The best form is probably from Argentine-bred Madame Stripes, who has group one form in Argentina, won the Osunitas Stakes at Del Mar July 21, and then finished third in the John C. Mabee Stakes (G2) Sept. 2. She was below her best when finishing 11th in the Goldikova Stakes (G2) Nov. 4.

Majestic Heat has won two stakes races this year, both for California-breds. The most recent was the Betty Grable Stakes at Del Mar Nov. 12. Taking on open company she was sixth in both the Goldikova Stakes and the Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1).

Shenandoah Queen returns after a visit to Churchill Downs, where she finished sixth in the Chilukki Stakes (G2). Prior to that she won the Tranquility Lake Stakes at Del Mar Aug. 25. Pacific Wind contests the race off a Santa Anita allowance victory Oct. 21; earlier in the year she finished third in the Honeymoon Stakes (G2) and the Senorita Stakes (G3).

Southern Truce Stakes winner Street Surrender and Torrey Pines Stakes (G3) third-place finisher Bernina Star complete the field.

Form suggests Champagne Room should be too good for this field, unless Constellation proves able to see out 1 1/16 miles. The others would need to improve to win, or hope the leading two haven’t recovered from their Breeders’ Cup exertions.