Jockey Joel Rosario had the runaway leader measured around the far turn of Saturday's Grade 1 Man o' War Stakes, running down Hunting Horn aboard Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing's Channel Maker. Trained by Bill Mott, the 5-year-old son of English Channel covered 1 3/8 miles over Belmont Park's firm turf course in 2:12.43 to earn his second G1 victory at odds of 6-1. He defeated Arklow by a neck on the wire, with the Aidan O'Brien trained pair of Magic Wand and Hunting Horn filling out the superfecta.
“He's a good horse and runs hard all the time. I'm glad we got the money today,” Rosario said. “I thought the horse [Hunting Horn] around the last turn might keep going, but I thought he was going too fast for the distance and the last half-furlong would be tough to get. I felt confident, and he's [Channel Maker] the kind of horse that has a good, strong stride. The more you ride him, the more he gives to you.”
Hunting Horn hustled out of the starting gate to lead the field through solid fractions of :22.98, :47.47 and 1:12.48, stretching his frontrunning margin from three lengths to nearly seven as he approached the head of the stretch. Epical and Channel Maker were second and third, respectively, down the backstretch, while eventual runner-up Arklow trailed the field in the early stages.
Rosario timed Channel Maker's run perfectly to be within five lengths as the wire rolled into view, and the big chestnut ate up the ground as Hunting Horn tired down the lane. Arklow was also closing fast down the center of the course, but Channel Maker had the advantage under the wire by a neck. Arklow had to settle for second as the filly Magic Wand came from the center of the pace to nip her stablemate Hunting Horn for the show.
Bred in Ontario by Ivan Dalos' Tall Oaks Farm, Channel Maker is out of the Horse Chestnut mare In Return. The chestnut gelding won the G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic during the fall meet at Belmont last year, but finished 11th on the soft turf course for the Breeders' Cup Turf. In 2019, Channel Maker has run fifth and fourth, respectively, in the Pegasus World Cup Turf and the G2 Mac Diarmida. Overall, his record stands at 5-4-3 from 24 starts, with earnings just shy of $2 million.
“I always thought the horse could go to the front or lay off it. He has tactical speed and there was speed in the race today,” said co-owner Randy Hill. “Joel rode a perfect race and was right where he needed to be. The horse bounced back off of two subpar performances.”
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