Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott reported that Grade 1 Sword Dancer-winner Channel Maker was in good shape the morning after making his third appearance in the 1 1/2-mile test at Saratoga Race Course a winning one, leading at every point of call and drawing off to a 5 3/4-length victory over a soft inner turf.
Owned by Wachtel Stable, R.A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Gary Barber, the veteran son of English Channel was a respective second and fourth in the last two editions of the Sword Dancer and scored a third Grade 1 victory in a 35-race career, while upping his lifetime earnings to $2,494,051.
In winning the Sword Dancer, Channel Maker earned an automatic entry to the Grade 1, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Turf on November 7 at Keeneland. He has run a respective 11th and 12th in the last two runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“He does appreciate the soft ground without a doubt,” said Mott, who previously won the Sword Dancer with Hall of Famer Theatrical , Fraise , and Broadway Flyer . “He gets over it pretty well, but it might help him more than some of the others.”
In 2018, Channel Maker won the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park in similar wire-to-wire fashion. Second in last year’s Joe Hirsch, Mott said that he could target a repeat victory in this year’s running, which is scheduled for October 3.
“Naturally, that would make the most sense to run him there, and he won a berth into the Breeders’ Cup,” Mott said.
Channel Maker registered a 108 Byer for Saturday’s performance, which replicated a career-best number he reached in winning the 2018 Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
A victory in the Sword Dancer made Channel Maker a Grade 1 winner on the NYRA circuit the past three years. After taking the Joe Hirsch in 2018, he won the Grade 1 Man o’ War in May 2019 at Belmont Park, marking his last victory prior to Saturday’s Sword Dancer.
“He gives you something,” Mott said. “Sometimes he doesn’t get the right set of circumstances, but you could say that about most other horses. When he gets the right circumstances, he’s tough.”
Co-owner Randy Hill of R.A. Hill Stables was particularly happy with the well-executed ride from jockey Manny Franco.
Channel Maker gave Hill his first Grade 1 victory as an owner when he took the Joe Hirsch in 2018.
“He’s had great success on soft turf, so I was pretty confident going in,” Hill said. “I give a lot of credit to Manny. He got him to relax and he’s a difficult horse to ride as everyone knows. He broke well, went to the lead and it was a tremendous job by the horse, jockey and Billy for getting him ready.”
Bred in Ontario by Tall Oaks Farm, Channel Maker is out of the turf stakes-winning Horse Chestnut broodmare In Return, making him a full brother to dual Grade 1 winner Johnny Bear.
Photo Credit: NYRA