Indy Champagne Looks to Uncork Big Effort in G3 Belle Mahone

May 30, 2024

Indy Champagne victorious in an allowance Oct. 7 at Woodbine (Michael Burns)

Chris Lomon/Woodbine Communications

TORONTO— Chiefswood Stables’ homebred Indy Champagne takes on nine rivals in Saturday’s $135,000 Belle Mahone Stakes (G3), at Woodbine.

Trained by Layne Giliforte, the 5-year-old daughter of Curlin-Sunday Affair will make her seasonal debut in the 1 1/16-mile main track Belle Mahone, for fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up.

The consistent mare, who has crafted a 2-5-1 mark from 12 career starts, is set to contest her second career stakes race.

In her first stakes engagement, Indy Champagne was fourth, 3 ½ lengths behind Millie Girl (Canada’s 2023 champion older main track female) in the 1 ¼-mile Maple Leaf (G3) on November 11 at Woodbine.

“She is my absolute favourite,” said Giliforte. “I just love her. It isn’t racing that is the biggest part of that. I took a liking to her before she even ran. She is a gorgeous filly, who has a great disposition and is very professional. There are certain horses around the barn that just kind of catch you and she is that one. There is just something about her.

“As a trainer, you can’t ask for anything more than heart and honesty – and that’s what she is all about.”

Indy Champagne has finished in the top two in seven of her nine past starts, including a 2 ¼-length triumph at 1 1/8 miles over the Toronto oval’s all-weather track one race before the Maple Leaf.

“She is honest,” praised Giliforte. “Her race record speaks for itself. That said, she hasn’t won a high percentage of her starts.

“Unfortunately, she’s had some hard luck with timing and circumstance. She had to run against the boys on a few occasions, but she tried hard every time, whatever the class was. She always ups her game.” ​ ​

Indy Champagne spent the winter months at Chiefswood’s farm in Loretto, Ontario.

“She had a great winter,” said Giliforte. “She put on some weight, and she filled out a bit too. She’s happy and fresh. I have to say – and I’m not taking any credit for it – that she looked like a Florida-wintered horse right from the get-go, even when the weather was miserable and cold.”

Giliforte, who has recorded 913 career wins, likes what he has seen from Indy Champagne in her works leading up to the Belle Mahone.

Of her past nine works, seven have been on the Woodbine main track, the other two over the dirt training track.

“I upped the ante this spring,” said the multiple stakes-winning conditioner. “We pumped up her work schedule, but we were very meticulous in how we planned everything. We based each work on the one previous.

“Her work program has been great, and she is responding very well to it.”

Giliforte knows facing stalwarts like multiple stakes winner Fashionably Fab, multiple graded stakes winner Millie Girl, and graded stakes winner Solo Album will present a tough challenge for Indy Champagne.

“It is going to be a tough race. But I’m not worried about her fitness at all, and I believe she will put in a great effort.”

Lindsay Robinson is the groom.

Also on tap Saturday is the $135,000 Jacques Cartier Stakes (G3). The six-furlong main track race for 4-year-olds and up includes graded stakes winners Candy Overload, Flag Of Honour (AUS), and Ironstone.

The Belle Mahone is scheduled as race seven and the Jacques Cartier goes as race five on Saturday’s 1:10 p.m. program, which also features the $175,000 bet365 Eclipse Stakes (G2) and $135,000 HPIbet Royal North Stakes (G3T). ​ ​

Fans can also wager on all the action through HPIbet.com and bet365.com.

$135,000 Belle Mahone Stakes (Race 7)

Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer

1 – Tito’s Calling – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Mike De Paulo

2 – Saratoga Vision – Austin Adams – Alexander Patykewich

3 – Indy Champagne – Justin Stein – Layne Giliforte

4 – Big Brass Bed – Alex Achard – Brendan Walsh

5 – Solo Album – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse

6 – Fashionably Fab – Pietro Moran – Kevin Attard

7 – Millie Girl – Rafael Hernandez – Catherine Day Phillips

8 – Witch Hazel – Sofia Vives – Katerina Vassilieva

9 – Forever Dixie – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse

10 – Metaphysical – Kazushi Kimura – Tony Gattellaro

$135,000 Jacques Cartier Stakes (Race 5)

Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer

1 – Old Chestnut – Eswan Flores – Martin Drexler

2 – Ironstone – Ryan Munger – William Armata

3 – Candy Overload – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse

4 – Flag Of Honour (AUS) – Kazushi Kimura – Julia Carey

5 – Mason’s Gamble – Sofia Vives – Josie Carroll

6 – War Bomber (IRE) – Rafael Hernandez – Norm McKnight

7 – Step Forward – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse

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