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Torre doubles his pleasure

Torre doubles his pleasure

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LOS ANGELES -- Joe Torre completed his "champagne parlay" Saturday night, which began when the colt he co-owns, Vineyard Haven, won the $400,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park in New York and ended when his Dodgers beat the Cubs to win their National League Division Series.

Vineyard Haven, a 2-year-old colt co-owned by the Dodgers manager, scored a visually impressive 5 3/4-length romp in the prestigious Grade I Champagne Stakes. Then the Dodgers topped that by sweeping the Cubs with a 3-1 win.

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The horse's victory earned Vineyard Haven an automatic berth in the Oct. 25 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. But majority owner and Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel has different plans -- a campaign aiming the horse at next year's Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown.

Frankel does not want to run the horse on Santa Anita's unproven new synthetic surface or wheel him back three weeks after this victory, so he'll skip the Breeders' Cup. Frankel told Torre he plans to bring the colt to the West Coast, possibly to run in the Hollywood Futurity at Hollywood Park in December.

In addition to the Champagne Stakes' $240,000 first-place purse, Vineyard Haven won an automatic nomination to all three Triple Crown races -- the Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. The Dodgers are scheduled to play the Padres at home the first Saturday of May next year, when the Kentucky Derby will be run.

The third member of the partnership that owns Vineyard Haven is Louis Lazzinnaro, a friend of Frankel's.

"He's a game little horse -- I couldn't be any happier, especially for the people that own him," Frankel told Daily Racing Form.

Torre watched Saturday's race in his clubhouse office with general manager Ned Colletti. Vineyard Haven went off the second choice at odds of 4-1. The son of Lido Palace has won three of four starts.

Torre said watching his horse is more nerve-racking than watching his team.

"You have no control over it," he said. "In baseball, you're doing something. Or you're thinking about doing something about it."

Frankel purchased the horse privately after winning his Florida debut June 28. He ran third in the mud in his first race for the new connections, the July 24 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, then beat some of the same horses he conquered Saturday in the Sept. 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.

"Bobby said when he bought him that he really liked him a lot," said Torre, who has six horses in training with Frankel and one other in the barn of Richard Dutrow Jr., trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown. "When Bobby called today, he said, 'I told you.' "

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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