Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R.A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s Channel Maker secured his fourth Grade 1 win with a stellar front-running performance in Saturday’s Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
The victory marked Channel Maker’s second win from four Joe Hirsch starts, having previously won in 2018. His previous Joe Hirsch efforts included a sixth in 2017 and a second last year.
Bred in Ontario by the Tall Oaks Farm of Ivan Dalos, the 7-year-old was purchased privately early in his sophomore season and transferred to the care of Mott.
Channel Maker scored his first win for Mott in his fifth attempt by taking the 12-furlong Breeders’ Stakes, third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, by a nose when traveling his preferred 12 furlongs on Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor turf course.
The veteran English Channel gelding now boasts a record of 36-7-5-4 with purse earnings in excess of $2.63-million with his other Grade 1 scores coming in the 2019 Man o’ War at Belmont and the Sword Dancer in August at Saratoga, which offered a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“We got him as a 3-year-old and it took us a little while to get through the ‘one-other-than’ condition,” said Mott. “It’s interesting how you go from that and he has now developed into winning four Grade 1s. He was a nice horse and we purchased him because he looked like he had potential, but he didn’t really get going until he won the Breeders’.”
Channel Maker paired up back-to-back 108 Beyers for his last two winning efforts.
“I love the horse. He’s run two huge, huge races,” said Mott.
Channel Maker is out of the late Horse Chestnut mare In Return, who also produced multiple Grade 1-winner Johnny Bear, also by English Channel, and a stakes-winning half-sister by Court Vision, the Ontario-bred Court Return, who ran third in the Grade 2 Canadian in September at Woodbine.
Mott said he is cautiously optimistic about Channel Maker’s chances as he makes a third attempt at the 12-furlong Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“You don’t know what’s going to show up [in the Breeders’ Cup.], but it seems like he came back good,” said Mott. “He’s run two spectacular races, has he got three in a row in him – we don’t know. It’s not going to cost us anything to find out.
“I would think in the fall you could get soft ground there,” added Mott. “That would be in his favor.”
Juddmonte Farms’ regally bred Tacitus worked a bullet half-mile in 47.20 seconds Sunday morning on Big Sandy working in company with Will Sing for Wine, who applied pressure to the pacesetter.
“The track was pretty quick. His work looked good,” said Mott. “He went out with his ears up. [Will Sing for Wine] was just a length off to have somebody push him along a little bit.”
Tacitus will target Saturday’s Grade 1, $250,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup, a 10-furlong test on Big Sandy for 3-year-olds and upward with a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on the line.
Jose Ortiz will have the call on Tacitus, a 4-year-old Tapit grey who boasts a record of 13-4-4-2 with more than $2.9 million in earnings. Out of the champion mare Close Hatches, Tacitus captured the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and Grade 2 Wood Memorial last year and added the Grade 2 Suburban to his ledger in July at Belmont.
The probable Jockey Club Gold Cup field includes Danny California (Orlando Noda), Happy Saver (Todd Pletcher), Mystic Guide (Michael Stidham), Plus Que Parfait (Brendan Walsh), and Prioritize (H. James Bond).
A busy Saturday of racing at Belmont for Mott also included off-the-board efforts from Moon Over Miami [sixth], who captured the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs in September, and South Bend [seventh] in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby.
“I guess there was a difference in the competition from the Dueling Grounds Derby to what he faced here,” said Mott. “I don’t know that he ran quite as good a race as he did down there but I suppose the first two or three horses in here were better.”