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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Turf Division Heats Up

- I’ve been trying all day to watch a replay of the United Nations Handicap. Monmouth offers their races for free via Race Replays, but I can’t seem to get the software going no matter which browser or computer I try. Then I remembered that I’d taped the show on TVG in which they play all the stakes races.....but when I went to play it, I saw that I’d taped Racing 101 instead.

So I haven’t actually seen the race, but I was glad to see that Cacique and English Channel mixed it up again, with surprising favorite Relaxed Gesture (4th choice in the morning line) not far behind. The trio, along with Grey Swallow finished within a half length of each other in the Manhattan, and wouldn’t it be cool if all four of them got together for the Arlington Million?

I think that’s what they had in mind for the Thoroughbred Championship Tour – that the series of races would allow horses in each division to knock heads regularly and develop some rivalries and a little personality to the group as a whole. This turf group is developing a little bit of that, and perhaps we’ll see them one or two more times before they all have their horseheads handed to them by the Europeans in the Breeders Cup.

The presence of Shake The Bank in the UN no doubt helped English Channel, who definitely seems to prefer having a target to run at, and the targets don’t get any bigger than this rabbit, who has been mercilessly used in this fashion five times now since being acquired specifically for that purpose a year ago. I wonder if he still has any idea of how to be an actual racehorse, even if he was put back to five furlongs, a distance at which he was stakes placed in April 2005. His intended beneficiary, Better Talk Now, was indeed dead on the board and finished 5th; he'll have to bounce back in a big way to be a factor down the stretch.

English Channel is by Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector), at 9% stakes-winners-from-foals, just below the 10% mark considered to comprise the elite for the profession. He’s out of an unraced dam by turf champ Theatrical who’s a full sister to the multiple graded grass winner Hap. English Channel’s second dam is Committed, a four time champion in England and France. Pletcher has mentioned the Sword Dancer at Saratoga as a possible alternative to the Million.


Stalusk said...

Hi there,

Grey Swallow is unlikely to continue in the division since he's been sold to Australian interests.

Can I just say your blog is a great read, cheers!

Anonymous said...


You wrote "English Channel is by Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector), at 9% stakes-winners-from-foals, just below the 10% mark considered to comprise the elite for the profession."

Actually, the 10% mark for "elite" is way high, considering the outrageous books of mares going to stallions these days. Smart Strike IS an elite stallion who just so happens to be without a major success in Breeders Cup or Triple Crown racing. Plus, its a pleasure seeing a stallion controlled by someone other than Darley or Coolmore be so successful.