Calumet Farm homebred Channel Cat took the lead out of the gate and was dead game in stretch to win Saturday's Grade 2 Bowling Green by a half-length over Ya Primo. The 4-year-old son of English Channel and Luis Saez ran 1 3/8 miles over Saratoga's firm turf in 2:14.43, marking the colt's first graded stakes triumph. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Channel Cat was sent off at odds of 13-1.
“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 explained. “We didn't want to get hung out on three turns, but he kind of caught a flyer and relaxed, and Luis [Saez] was riding with so much confidence. When you make a decision like that, sometimes it works out.”
Ya Primo was the quickest out of the starting gate, but Saez sent Channel Cat racing around that rival from the outside to take the lead in the first 100 yards. From there, the eventual winner led Channel Maker through fractions of :24.66, :49.87 and 1:15.52 with a three-length advantage, just cruising around the track with his ears pricked. Ya Primo stayed prominently placed on the rail in third, and Argonne made a middle move to push into second down the backstretch and prompt the pace a bit.
Rounding the far turn, Ya Primo moved up the rail and appeared poised to take the lead. Channel Cat refused to give in, however, and battled that rival into submission through the length of the stretch, crossing the wire a half-length the best. Ya Primo had to settle for second, with Arklow checking in third. The 5-2 favorite Channel Maker finished fourth.
“He's a game horse,” Saez said. “He fought and took the lead and when they came to him in the stretch he kept fighting.”
Bred in Kentucky by Calumet, Channel Cat is out of the winning Kitten's Joy mare Carnival Kitten. The colt won a pair of listed stakes races in September of his sophomore season, then had about a seven-month break from the races. Most recently, Channel Cat had finished third in the G1 United Nations. Overall, his record stands at 5-2-3 from 16 starts with earnings of over $700,000.
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