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English Channel (horse)

English Channel
200 px
Sire Smart Strike
Dam Belva
Grandsire Mr. Prospector
Damsire Theatrical
Gender Stallion
Foaled 2002
Country United States
Color Chestnut
Breeder Keene Ridge Farm
Owner James T. Scatuorchio
Trainer Todd Pletcher
Record 23:13-4-1
Earnings $5,199,028
Summary
English Channel is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Belva by Smart Strike. He was born around 2002 in the United States, and was bred by Keene Ridge Farm.
Major wins
Virginia Derby (2005)
Colonial Turf Cup (2005)
Woodlawn Stakes (2005)
United Nations Stakes (2006,2007)
Turf Classic Stakes (2006)
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Handicap
(2006, 2007)
Canadian Turf Handicap (2006)
Breeders' Cup Turf (2007)
Awards
American Champion Male Turf Horse (2007)
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)
Last updated on October 27, 2007

English Channel (foaled April 10, 2002 in Kentucky) is an American Thoroughbred racehorse. Owned by James T. Scatuorchio and bred by Keene Ridge Farm, he was sired by Smart Strike out of the Theatrical mare Belva. He made his racing debut in 2004 at the Saratoga Race Course and won the race. In four years of racing, he competed in twenty three races, winning thirteen, finishing second in four, and finishing third in one. His final victory came at the 2007 Breeders' Cup Turf, where he set a record for this race when he won by seven lengths. Following this race, he was retired to stud in in Lexington, Kentucky.

Contents

Two-Year-Old Campaign

English Channel made his first start at the age of two in a 1 1/16 mile maiden race on the turf at Saratoga. Ridden by John Velazquez, English Channel got off to a slow start in his first race, running midpack almost throughout before showing an explosive finishing kick and pulling away to break his maiden by a length in his first time out.[1][2]

Three-Year-Old Campaign

Seven months later, in March 2005, he made his second career start in an allowance at Gulfstream Park. Once again he ran midpack, but unlike in his maiden race, he was unable to close ground on the eventual winner Drum Major and came across the wire in fourth place.[2] Exactly one month later, English Channel ran in an allowance at Keeneland Race Course. After making a four-wide sweeping move, he ran at the front of the pack, eventually taking the lead and driving to a 5.75 length victory.[2]

On Preakness day at Pimlico, English Channel made his stakes debut in the listed Woodlawn Stakes. After running much of the race in traffic, he once again charged into the lead and pulled away, winning by 4 lengths, marking his first career stakes victory, his second straight victory by more than three lengths and his third overall victory.[3]

In June 2005, Pletcher pointed the horse to the inaugural Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs to try for the first leg of the Grand Slam of Grass. Currently a Grade III event, the race was a listed stakes in its first year. Running on the outside in third during the opening portions of the race, English Channel once again stormed to the front and pulled away from his competitors to score his third straight victory.[4]

English Channel then attempted the second leg of the Grand Slam, running in the Virginia Derby, once again at Colonial Downs. This race would mark his graded-stakes debut, as the Virginia Derby is a Grade III event. After taking a few missteps on the backstretch, he recovered and once again drove to the finish line, winning by 3.25 lengths, marking his fourth straight victory and his first career graded stakes win.[5]

From Colonial Downs, the Grand Slam of Grass moved to Arlington Park for the third leg of the Grand Slam - the Secretariat Stakes. Going into the race as the favorite in his Grade I debut, English Channel was halfway to becoming the first horse to complete the Grand Slam of Grass.[6]. However, the Secretariat would not be his race. After a long duel at the front with Purim, English Channel was overtaken by Gun Salute, who had been stalking the leaders in third. Gun Salute pulled away slightly, beating English Channel to the wire by 1.75 lengths, ending his win streak and ending his chances at a Grand Slam.[7]

Frustration hit again in the Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park. Making his first start against older horses, English Channel lost by a head bob to Shakespeare after a side-by-side back-and-forth battle to the wire.[8]

Rounding out his three-year-old campaign, English Channel ran fifth in the Breeders' Cup Turf after tiring in the stretch, only the second time in his career he had finished outside of the top two.[9]

Four-Year-Old Campaign

English Channel began 2006 in the same place that he began 2005 - Gulfstream Park. Going off as the 9-5 favorite in the Canadian Turf Handicap, he ran in second throughout, stalking the leader, eventually taking the lead in the stretch and holding off Miesque's Approval to win by three-quarters of a length.[10]

After a two-month layoff, English Channel shipped to Churchill Downs to once again try to win a Grade I stakes. Unlike his last three attempts, however, English Channel would not be denied in the Turf Classic Stakes. Running third throughout, English Channel again kicked it into high gear when he hit the stretch, engaging in a stretch dual with Cacique. When they hit the wire, English Channel was ahead by a half length, earning his first career Grade I victory.[11]

English Channel then headed back to Belmont for the Manhattan Handicap. After narrowly missing a Grade I in the Hirsch and a disappointing run in the Breeders' Cup, Belmont would again deny English Channel a win. After stalking the pace per his style, he was unable to get his usual kick when he hit the stretch and finished in fourth, with Cacique winning.[12]

A month later, however, he would exact revenge upon Cacique. Running for the first time at Monmouth Park in the United Nations Stakes, English Channel rated in fourth for most of the race before they hit the stretch drive. Again, English Channel kicked it into high gear and again, as at Churchill Downs, English Channel held off Cacique to win by a half length.[13]

In his next race, English Channel's backers picked the worst possible year for him to make his first attempt at the Arlington Million. While English Channel and Cacique stalked the lead in third, The Tin Man, an eight year old son of Affirmed, set a pace so slow that some would later describe it as "murder". By keeping the field so slow, The Tin Man was able to conserve enough energy for the stretch and a very popular win. Due to the pace, however, English Channel was not able to make a move and finished fourth, slightly more than two lengths behind the winner.[14]

Pletcher ran English Channel in one final prep before the Breeders' Cup, the Hirsch at Belmont. After missing the win in 2005 by a headbob, it was all English Channel in 2006. Co-entry Icy Atlantic took the lead and kept a slow pace while English Channel ran on the outside. When they hit the stretch, English Channel exploded, pulling away to win by 4.5 lengths.[15]

In 2006, the Breeders' Cup was at Churchill Downs, the same location as English Channel's first career Grade I win. Considered a favorite to win the race, he had a better run than the previous year, but was unable to keep pace with Better Talk Now and eventual winner Red Rocks, finishing third, over two lengths behind the winner.[16]

Five-Year Old Campaign

Going against the modus operandi of the day, English Channel returned for yet another season in 2007, surprising many horse racing fans by starting his season in a Thursday afternoon allowance at Gulfstream. While he may have been entered to the race under the radar, he ran one of the best races of his career. English Channel not only won this race, but he set the course record for 1 1/8 miles and narrowly missed the world record by 0.59 seconds.[17]

Next, joining fellow American horses Lava Man and Miesque's Approval, English Channel shipped to Nad Al Sheba in Dubai to run in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes. The entire contingent ran terribly, with English Channel running the worst race of his career, finishing in 12th place.[18]

The frustration continued when English Channel again ran in the Manhattan. While leading in the stretch and fightion off competitors on the outside, Better Talk Now squeezed by on the inside, beating English Channel to the wire by a head bob in a thrilling but highly disappointing finish.[19]

In his next start, a prep for the upcoming Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park, English Channel attempted to defend his title in the United Nations against one of the country's top mares, stablemate Honey Ryder. On this day, however, Honey Ryder was no match for English Channel, as he turned away her efforts and drove to the line, beating her by a length and Better Talk Now by two lengths. In addition, he set a course record with his victory.[20]

From Monmouth, it was back to Saratoga, where English Channel had not run since breaking his maiden as a two-year-old. In the Sword Dancer Invitational, "The Graveyard of Champions" lived up to its reputation, as long shot Grand Couturier ran away from English Channel, winning by three lengths. English Channel had to settle for another second, meaning that at this late stage in the 2007 campaign, he only had one graded win to show for it.[21]

With just one stakes win in 2007 under his belt, English Channel returned to Belmont, a track that he had only won at once in five starts despite going off on more than one occasion as the favorite. Returning to defend his title in the Turf Classic Invitational, English Channel went off as the 2-5 odds-on favorite. Running his trademark race by rating just a bit off the pace, English Channel entered the stretch and kicked into gear only to be met with a wall of horses in front. After a hole briefly opened, English Channel exploded through it, catching the leader and pulling away to win by 2.25 lengths.[22]

Coming off of his win in the Turf Classic, English Channel made his third attempt at the Breeders' Cup Turf. Going off as the second favorite behind the odds on favorite Dylan Thomas, English Channel ran in his usual spot just off the lead and pulled away with an explosive stretch move pulling away from second place Shamdinan to finally win the Breeders' Cup Turf. For a horse that had earned a reputation through his career for large winning margins, the seven length win was the largest of his career and the largest winning margin in Breeders Cup Turf history.[23]

Following his winning efforts in the Breeders Cup Turf, English Channel was retired to stud where he will begin breeding in the 2008 season at Hurricane Hall Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.[24]

Races

Finish Race Distance Track Date
1st Breeders' Cup Turf One and One-Half Miles Monmouth Park October 27, 2007
1st Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Handicap One and One-Quarter Miles Belmont Park September 30, 2007
2nd Sword Dancer Handicap One and One-Half Miles Saratoga Race Course August 11, 2007
1st United Nations Stakes One and Three-Eighths Miles Monmouth Park July 7, 2007
2nd Manhattan Handicap One and One-Quarter Miles Belmont Park June 9, 2007
12th Dubai Duty Free Stakes One Mile, 194 Yards Nad Al Sheba Racecourse March 31, 2007
1st Allowance One and One-Eighth Miles Gulfstream Park February 22, 2007
3rd Breeders' Cup Turf One and One-Half Miles Churchill Downs November 4, 2006
1st Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Handicap One and One-Quarter Miles Belmont Park October 7, 2006
4th Arlington Million One and One-Quarter Miles Arlington Park August 12, 2006
1st United Nations Stakes One and Three-Eighths Miles Monmouth Park July 8, 2006
2nd Manhattan Handicap One and One-Quarter Miles Belmont Park June 10, 2006
1st Turf Classic Stakes One and One-Eighth Miles Churchill Downs May 6, 2006
1st Canadian Turf Handicap One and One-Sixteenth Miles Gulfstream Park March 11, 2006
5th Breeders' Cup Turf One and One-Half Miles Belmont Park October 29, 2005
2nd Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Handicap One and One-Half Miles Belmont Park October 1, 2005
2nd Secretariat Stakes One and One-Quarter Miles Arlington Park August 13, 2005
1st Virginia Derby One and One-Quarter Miles Colonial Downs July 16, 2005
1st Colonial Turf Cup One and Three-Sixteenths Miles Colonial Downs June 25, 2005
1st Woodlawn Stakes One and One-Sixteenth Miles Pimlico Race Course May 21, 2005
1st Allowance One and One-Sixteenth Miles Keeneland Race Course April 13, 2005
4th Allowance One Mile Gulfstream Park March 13, 2005
1st Maiden Special Weight One and One-Sixteenth Miles Saratoga Race Course August 6, 2004

Breeding

Pedigree of English Channel
Sire
Smart Strike
Mr. Prospector Raise a Native Native Dancer
Raise You
Gold Digger Nashua
Sequence
Classy 'n Smart Smarten Cyane
Smartaire
No Class Nodouble
Classy Quillo
Dam
Belva
Theatrical Nureyev Northern Dancer
Special
Tree of Knowledge Sassafras
Sensibility
Committed Hagley Olden Times
Teo Pepi
Mistinguette Boldnesian
Royal Warrant

References

  1. Saratoga Results
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Daily Racing Form 2006 Breeders' Cup Past Performances
  3. English Channel Starts Preakness Undercard Stakes Program| bloodhorse.com
  4. English Channel draws off in Colonial Turf Cup - Thoroughbred Times
  5. English Channel Rolls to Virginia Derby Win| bloodhorse.com
  6. Arlington Park horse racing in Illinois - Chicago Barn to Wire
  7. Gun Salute Shoots Down Channel's Bonus| bloodhorse.com
  8. Shakespeare Adds Another Verse to Winning Sonnet| bloodhorse.com
  9. Shirocco Shines in BC Turf Blowout| bloodhorse.com
  10. English Channel Rolls On in Canadian Turf| bloodhorse.com
  11. English Channel Tops Deep Woodford Reserve | bloodhorse.com
  12. Cacique Holds on in Manhattan Squeaker| bloodhorse.com
  13. USATODAY.com - English Channel wins United Nations Stakes as Monmouth reopens
  14. The Tin Man Cuts Million Foes Down to Size - bloodhorse.com
  15. Pletcher Assault Ends With English Channel | bloodhorse.com
  16. Red Rocks Pulls Upset in Breeders' Turf - washingtonpost.com
  17. ESPN - English Channel sets course record at Gulfstream Park - Horse Racing
  18. Japan’s Admire Moon takes Dubai Duty Free, Lava Man finishes last - Thoroughbred Times
  19. Better Talk Now Wins Thrilling Manhattan | bloodhorse.com
  20. English Channel wins United Nations Stakes, sets course record - USATODAY.com
  21. Grand Couturier outfoots English Channel
  22. English Channel Wins Hirsch Classic in Spectacular Fashion | bloodhorse.com
  23. English Channel Breaks Through in Turf | bloodhorse.com
  24. English Channel among retired BC runners - NTRA



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