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USATSI

An automatic berth in the 2022 Breeders' Cup Juvenile will be on the line when the starting gate opens in the 2022 Champagne Stakes on Saturday at Belmont At The Big A. The Brad Cox-trained Verifying is the 9-5 favorite in the 2022 Champagne Stakes odds. This son of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify won his only career start. The Steve Asmussen-trained Gulfport is second in the odds at 2-2 in the six-horse 2022 Champagne Stakes field. He has two wins and two seconds in four career starts. Champions Dream (5-1), Top Recruit (5-1), Andiamo a Firenze (6-1) and Blazing Sevens (8-1) round out the 2022 Champagne Stakes horses. 

Post time for the one-turn mile race is 5:45 p.m. ET. With six lightly raced 2-year-olds set to enter the starting gate on Saturday, you'll want to see what SportsLine writer Gene Menez has to say before making any 2022 Champagne Stakes picks.

A former reporter and editor at Sports Illustrated, Menez covered an array of sports, including horse racing, for the magazine and its website for almost 14 years. Between 2010 and 2012, he served as SI's handicapper for the Triple Crown races and correctly predicted Super Saver to win the Kentucky Derby in 2010. In 2015, while writing for Sports on Earth, Menez accurately gave out the Kentucky Derby superfecta (American Pharoah, Firing Line, Dortmund and Frosted), which paid $1,268.20 for $2. Then in 2017, he tweeted out his Kentucky Derby picks, including Always Dreaming to win, and hit the Pick 4, which paid almost $6,900 on a $1 bet.

Now, he has handicapped the 2022 Champagne Stakes lineup, made his picks and constructed his bets. You can only see them at SportsLine.

Top 2022 Champagne Stakes predictions 

One surprise: Menez's top pick is not the 9-5 favorite, Verifying. A $775,000 purchase as a yearling last year, Verifying made his career debut on Aug. 27 at Saratoga and left the gate as a formidable 4-5 favorite. He went straight to the front that day and never looked back in winning by almost two lengths.

But he made an easy lead that day, running the first half in 46 seconds, a scenario that's not likely to play out on Saturday with other speed horses in the gate. "Verifying got an easy lead in his debut win and will almost certainly face a much hotter pace on Saturday," Menez told SportsLine. Menez prefers three horses over Verifying. See which horse to back at SportsLine.

How to 2022 Champagne Stakes, Woodward Stakes picks 

Menez's top pick is a horse who "provides good value at this price." He also is high on a longshot who "should thrive over the expected wet track." As a bonus, Menez also has a pick on the Woodward Stakes (4:07 p.m. ET). He's sharing which horses to back only at SportsLine.

So who wins the Champagne Stakes 2022 and Woodward Stakes 2022? And how has Menez constructed his wagers? Check out the latest Champagne Stakes odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Menez's picks for the Champagne Stakes.

2022 Champagne Stakes odds, post positions

Prg #HorseOddsProjection
1Andiamo a Firenze6-1SEE PICKS
2Top Recruit5-1SEE PICKS
3Verifying9-5SEE PICKS
4Champions Dream5-1SEE PICKS
5Blazing Sevens8-1SEE PICKS
6Gulfport2-1SEE PICKS