Bloodlines: English channel’s stature as top bull grows at racetracks, if not auctions – Reuters

Channel Cat, John Velazquez, Channel Man o’ War Winner

Is there a higher standard less appreciated in the country than English Channel?

Channel Cat’s victory in the Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes was a reminder of the excellence the stallion passes on to his offspring and which the English Channel has shown emphatically during his own racing career.

The 19-year-old son of Smart Strike and mare Theatrical Belva has proven himself to be a hickory runner, earning 13 of 23 starts in four seasons and earning $5.3 million. At the races, Manche started his career on the right foot: by winning his debut at 2 years old in Saratoga.

The horse went on to win four of his first five starts as a 3-year-old, including the Grade 3 Virginia Derby, and he also placed second in two G1 races, the Secretariat at Arlington and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont.

The Channel returned to racing at 4 to win a trio of G1 stakes: the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont and the United Nations at Monmouth Park. Then the horse came back to 5 and did the same. And this time, a trio of G1, the Turf Classic at Belmont and the United Nations, plus the Breeders’ Cup Turf race at Monmouth Park, earned the English Channel the Eclipse award as male turf champion.

And a trip to stud.

English Channel father Smart Strike couldn’t have been hotter at the time. He was the best stallion in North America, thanks not only to Manche, but also to Curlin, who was voted champion 3-year-old colt and horse of the year in 2007 after G1 victories in the Preakness, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Breeders Cup Classic.

The cachet of a stallion like Smart Strike – himself a son of the great Mr. Prospector – who could sire such fine horses brought considerable attention to his sons and then sent them to stud with lordly expectations of success.

Yet aside from their sire, high racing class and chestnut coats, two horses could hardly be more different than English Channel and Curlin.

The latter is a muscular beast that has left some breeders wondering if he was too big of a specimen to breed successfully. Time and evidence from the elite racing class have disproved these concerns.

The exact opposite concern was that of English Channel, who came to stud looking so racy, lean and elegant that some breeders wondered if he would produce enough muscle and mass in his stock to make horses of his own. high class racing.

Time and racetrack testing have proven English Channel can sire these top horses, with 30 winners listed to date, more than half of its 58 winners. They come in a range of sizes, colors and shapes that have tended to confuse the commercial market, which values ​​consistency almost as much as quality.

A sire of similar character is the broodmare sire of Channel Cat: Kitten’s Joy. A champion turf racer like English Channel, Kitten’s Joy casts a wild array of physical types, from the lean-bodied type that reminds us of the hulkingly powerful whippets similar to him.

Still, Kitten’s Joy and English Channel are very good bulls, especially for turf horses, and that’s partly because a turf horse needs to have a certain level of pace to be successful. It’s a great gift if the runner possesses a top-notch change of pace like these two turf champions, but the ability to grab the lead and make it last is proof of great racing character and a sturdy build. .

Channel Cat has them in spades. He built on his strength so well that he made the Man o’ War a considerable test of endurance (starting with a first quarter mile in: 22.69) and then refused to be overwhelmed by speed in the last three stages, which he has covered: 35.85.

As well as his own genetic contribution to the bigger game, English Channel succeeded because the breeders, in particular the owner of Calumet Farm, believed in the stallion and backed him up with quality mares. For a stallion who doesn’t often get the yearling ‘sale type’, it’s an essential support system, and the sport is all the richer for it.

Frank Mitchell is the author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the “Sires and Dams” column in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred and other major publications. Additionally, Frank is Chief of Biomechanics for DataTrack International and tends to his own broodmares and colts in central Kentucky. Discover his Bloodstock in the Bluegrass Blog.

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