After 1 3/8 miles of Saratoga's Mellon turf course, Channel Maker and Glorious Empire were unable to be separated at the wire; placing judges declared the finish a dead heat in Saturday's Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes. Matthew Schera's Glorious Empire led all the way, and Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable's Channel Maker came rolling late to share the victory. Off at 22-1, the 7-year-old Glorious Empire (Holy Roman Emperor) was ridden by Julien Leparoux for trainer James Lawrence, while the 5-1, 4-year-old Channel Maker (English Channel) was ridden by Joel Rosario for trainer Bill Mott. The pair stopped the clock in 2:19.41 over the soft course.
Glorious Empire was quick out of the gate, taking a one-length lead over Hi Happy and Manitoulin as Channel Maker had to be restrained against the rail in the early going. Leparoux had no pressure on Glorious Empire through fractions of :26.07, :51.69, and 1:17.01, and the gelding shook loose of his rivals at the top of the stretch to have a three-length lead.
Meanwhile, Rosario took Channel Maker around the outside mid-way through the turn, and was making up a lot of ground in the final eighth of a mile. So too were Bigger Picture and Sadler's Joy, but it was Channel Maker who was able to meet Glorious Empire at the wire. Sadler's Joy was no more than a half-length back to finish third, while Bigger Picture was a close-up fourth.
Channel Maker was bred in Ontario by Tall Oaks Farm, and was a $57,000 RNA at Keeneland September. His record now stands at 3-3-3 from 18 starts, with earnings of over $600,000.
“We had him in some very tough races and he is a sort of a come-from-behind horse,” said Mott of Channel Maker. “Sometimes, he's had to deal with a lot of traffic and he has had some trips where he has been stopped and shuffled around a bit. He got a clear run today and it paid off today. We got there, I just wish we go one inch further, but it was still a good race and I'm proud of the horse and proud of everyone who has done a good job with the horse and thankful to the owners letting us run him in these good races.”
Irish-born Glorious Empire was bred by Patrick Grogan, and brought $151,880 at the Tattersalls October Yearling sale. The gelding's record now stands at eight wins from 22 starts, with earnings of over $300,000.
“We weren't quite sure if he would like soft ground, but that was the plan, to get the lead and try to slow it down,” Lawrence said. “It just worked out. Just worked out. We wanted to get him out there by himself and let him settle, and hopefully, get away with easy fractions. At the top of the lane I didn't think they would catch him.”
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