Channel Maker Tries for Turf Classic Double
Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
Channel Maker has always been a classy sort, running well enough at two to earn himself a trip to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) in 2016. He won the Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine at three, then caused a mild upset when winning the $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (G1) at four. Now as a five-year-old, the son of English Channel is back to try and defend his title in the 1 ½ mile Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf prep at Belmont Park.
With over $2 million in the bank, Channel Maker has been an earning machine for owners Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R.A. Hill Stable, and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing. Bill Mott trains the Ontario-bred, who is coming off a fourth-place effort in the Sword Dancer Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. He has been fourth in his last three starts since winning the Man O’ War (G1) over this course in May. John Velazquez will ride.
Third in this race last year was Sadler’s Joy, who is back to try again for owners Woodslane Farm and trainer Tom Albertrani. The six-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy was second, beaten just a neck, in the Sword Dancer last out. He has finished top three in six of nine starts on this turf course. Jose Lezcano will ride; he was up for the narrow loss last out in his first ride aboard the horse since 2016.
Arklow is coming off a second-place effort in the $1 million Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) as the favorite. He was the defending champion of that even, but hasn’t won since, running second four time in his next six starts. Brad Cox trains the five-year-old son of Arch, who will have Junior Alvarado aboard for the first time since his first two starts. Arklow has earned over $1.5 million with five wins and six seconds in 22 tries.
Ya Primo (Chi) makes his third start in the United States since joining the barn of trainer Chad Brown. He was second in the Bowling Green (G2) in his local bow, but then ran ninth as the second choice in the Sword Dancer. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be aboard the son of Mastercraftsman (Ire), who was a grade 1 winner in his native Chile.
The winner of the Bowling Green was Channel Cat, trainer Todd Pletcher’s entrant in the race. The four-year-old Calumet Farm runner is closing in on $1 million in earnings by running well in these turf marathons, finishing third in two grade 1 races in his last three tries. He is a three-time stakes winner in the last 11 months.
Zulu Alpha will break from the rail and is seeking his tenth lifetime victory. He won the Kentucky Turf Cup last out by 3 ¼ lengths, defeating Arklow. His only try here was a seventh-place effort in the Man O’ War behind Channel Maker, but he rebounded to be second by a neck in the United Nations next out. Mike Maker trains the six-year-old son of Street Cry (Ire), who will have Channing Hill aboard.
Cross Border rounds out the field. Watch all the stakes action from Belmont Park, Keeneland, and Santa Anita this weekend live on TVG.
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On Saturday, the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap will top a great card at Belmont Park with five graded stakes and once again bring several of the nation’s best horses together for a one-mile showdown.
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Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Features Metropolitan Handicap from Belmont Park This Saturday Live at 5 PM on NBC
Led by Code of Honor, McKinzie and Vekoma, an outstanding field of eight horses will compete for a free berth into the $2 million Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) on Saturday, July 4 in the 1-mile, $500,000 Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap.