Todd A. Pletcher Racing Stables, Inc.

Channel Cat Makes the Grade in Bowling Green

Channel Cat wires the Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga Race Course

Channel Cat wires the Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga Race Course

Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand


Calumet Farm homebred led every step July 27 in grade 2 turf test.

Calumet Farm homebred Channel Cattook command in the $250,000 Bowling Green Stakes (G2T) July 27 at Saratoga Race Courseand never relinquished his lead.


The 1 3/8-mile Bowling Green was the first graded victory for the 4-year-old English Channel  colt, who was beaten three-quarters of a length last out in the June 22 United Nations Stakes (G1T) at Monmouth Park.


Saturday's winning effort has trainer Todd Pletcher aiming for another grade 1 run Aug. 24 at the Spa.


"I would think Mr. (Brad) Kelley (of Calumet Farm) would be delighted to run in the Sword Dancer (G1T), so hopefully things go well between now and then," Pletcher said. "I think he's like a lot of English Channels—he continues to improve as he gets older and doesn't mind a little cut in the ground. He showed today that he has a versatile running style, so we feel that there's still more to come."


While his third-place finish in the United Nations was a rallying effort, in the Bowling Green Channel Cat was taken straight to the lead from post 10 by jockey Luis Saez. He led a deep field of 12 through quarter-mile fractions of :24.66, :49.87, 1:15.52, and 1:39.14.


Channel Cat remained a clear leader throughout the Bowling Green. Last year's dead-heat winner, Channel Maker, was three lengths back in second at the half-mile point, withArgonneadding pressure by ranging up from fifth to be a half-length behind Channel Cat.


Though Channel Cat was in control and Argonne's bid did not last, the pacesetter was left with tough runners coming after him. Ya Primo, a dual group 1 winner in Chile making his first stateside start for trainer Chad Brown, made an inside bid under Jose Ortiz. Arklow, a grade 3 winner and runner-up in two consecutive graded stakes at Belmont Park, rallied from seventh. Channel Maker, also a dual grade 1 winner on grass, stayed close in contention as well.


Channel Cat proved game and turned back the competition, running 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.61 before stopping the clock in 2:14.43, a half-length in front, on firm going.


"He's a game horse. He fought and took the lead, and when they came to him in the stretch, he kept fighting," Saez said.


"I know a couple horses had a little speed, but he put me in that position," Saez added. "I knew he had a shot to win the race. I saw them coming, but he responded and got to the wire first."


Ya Primo captured second by a head over Arklow. Channel Maker, Zulu Alpha, Sadler's Joy, Olympico,Focus Group, Highland Sky, Argonne, Catcho En Die, andRed Knight completed the order of finish.


"It was a good trip. I felt they backed it up a little bit down the backside, and it could have cost me the race," Ortiz said of his ride on Ya Primo. "I was in a good position and had a good opening. It was a great job by Chad. I think with this start under his belt, he will be a contender in the Sword Dancer."


The Bowling Green improved Channel Cat's record to 5-2-3 from 16 starts. The chestnut ended his 3-year-old season with victories in the Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs and Bald Eagle Derby at Laurel Park. His earnings total $738,292.


"We wanted to get away cleanly and get some position going into the first turn, and it's not a real long run going into the first turn going a mile and three eighths," Pletcher said. "We didn't want to get hung out on three turns, but he kind of caught a flier and relaxed, and Luis was riding with so much confidence. When you make a decision like that, sometimes it works out.


"It was unfolding the right way. I was a little concerned when they turned up the backside. (Argonne) put on a little earlier pressure, and I was hoping Luis could steal another quarter-mile or so before he had to start engaging. So, to his credit, he put in a long and sustained run."

Bred in Kentucky, Channel Cat is the first of four foals out of the Kitten's Joy  mare Carnival Kitten, who last produced a Red Rocks colt March 28 and was bred back to Distorted Humor.

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