LEXINGTON, Ky. – NBS Stable’s Spooky Channel eased past longtime leader Two Emmys just before the finish line after a protracted stretch duel to prevail by a neck and win the 27th running of the $150,000 Sycamore (G3) for 3-year-olds and up Friday afternoon.
Trained by Jason Barkley Spooky Channel covered the 1½ miles over a turf course labeled as good in 2:29.71. The victory is the first graded stakes win for Barkley and his first Keeneland stakes win.
Jason Barkley on winning his first graded stakes with Spooky Chanel: “It’s a very good feeling. It’s nice to be out here on the Keeneland turf for the stakes presentation. As an assistant (trainer), we were out a few times but when you do it yourself, it’s great. It’s a team effort. It’s just exciting. Horses will take you places. It’s all him. He’s all heart. He’s a cool horse. I’m just happy to have him.”
Spooky Channel was ridden by Julien Leparoux, It is the second Sycamore victory for Leparoux, who won in 2012 on Kindergarden Kid.
“We had a great trip. He broke sharp and put me in the right spot. We were lucky to cross down and be able to drop inside and save ground the whole race. I knew I was following the one to beat (Two Emmys). I knew (Spooky Channel) was going to bring me at least to the eighth pole, and when he found the room, he came nice. That was a nice race,” commented Leparoux.
Two Emmys was first out of the gate under James Graham and led the field of 11 uncontested through fractions of :24.87, :49.51, 1:14.52 and 1:39.81 with Ry’s the Guy and Spooky Channel tracking in the second and third spots.
The running order remained unchanged until the top of the stretch when Ry’s the Guy dropped out of the pursuit and Spooky Channel took up the chase. Two Emmys maintained a narrow edge until deep stretch when Spooky Channel pushed by.
“The winner is proven he wants to go that far. It is what it is. Everything went in our favor; it was just unlucky to lose. He ran his race,” said Graham.
This is the third Grade 3 victory for Spooky Channel, whose previous scores came when trained by Brian Lynch for different ownership. Barkley claimed Spooky Channel for $80,000 at Churchill Downs in April.
Spooky Channel is a 6-year-old gelded Kentucky-bred son of English Channel out of the Kitten’s Joy mare Spooky Kitten. With Friday’s $90,000 check, he increased his earnings to $601,722 with a record of 25-11-4-0.
Spooky Channel returned $16.40, $6.80 and $5. Two Emmys returned $4.80 and $4.40 and finished 4¼ lengths in front of Ry’s the Guy, who paid $5.20 to show under Chris Landeros.
“It was good until the end. He runs hard every time, and we appreciate having a good horse. Congratulations to the winner. He probably will get a little time off around here until the weather turns cold and then he probably will go to Fair Grounds in New Orleans for the winter,” recounted Mac Robinson, trainer of Two Emmys.
It was another 1¾ lengths back to Bama Breeze, who was followed in order by Another Mystery, Sole Volante, Kentucky Ghost, Ajourneytofreedom, Glynn County, Yamato and Breakpoint (CHI).
“Everything went to plan. I was able to get a nice ground-saving position. [Glynn County] was traveling well, but when it came time to run he just didn’t have much to give me. (Traffic) kind of stacked up around the second turn. I just wasn’t able to get through there,” explained Gaffalione.
Click here for a replay of the race and the post-race interview with winning connections.
Racing continues Saturday with a 10-race program beginning at 1 p.m. ET and featuring two stakes for 3-year-olds: the $250,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2) for fillies going 7 furlongs on the main track and the $150,000 Perryville going 7 furlongs on the main track. The Perryville is scheduled as the seventh race (4:12 p.m.), and the Lexus Raven Run is the ninth (5:16 p.m.).
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Keeneland Press Release
Photo: Spooky Channel (outside orange cap) with Juliene Leparoux duels for the lead with Two Emmys under James Graham with Spooky Channel the eventual victor. (Keeneland Photo)