LAUREL, MD – Calumet Farm’s homebred Channel Cat took command inside the final 1/2-mile and soared off strongly to win Saturday’s $150,000 Bald Eagle Derby at Laurel Park.
Breaking well from post 4 under Feargal Lynch at 2/1 odds, Channel Cat was content to ride two-wide in second alongside Queen of Connaught in the early going. Meanwhile, the 8/5 favorite Neepawa shot out to a 4-length lead while posting lukewarm fractions of :25.85, :51.33, 1:17.23, and 1:45.33 for the opening mile. The leader began weakening as the field neared the far turn, allowing Channel Cat to close the gap. Collaring and clearing Neepawa in the blink of an eye, Channel Cat emerged onto the front stretch with a 5-length lead and was kept to task for the run home. The Todd Pletcher trainee crossed the wire 5 3/4 lengths ahead in a final time of 2:40.47 for the 1 1/2-mile event over the yielding turf course.
“Early on in the race he wasn’t using up much energy,” Lynch said. “It was only when I asked him at the 3/8 (pole that) he really kicked in.”
Though no match for the winner, Admission Office was able to close well from the rear to take second by 2 lengths over Nakamura. Neepawa faded in the stretch to finish fourth ahead of Jailhouse Kitten, while Peace of Ekati and a spent Queen of Connaught completed the order of finish. Salt Air and Way Early were scratched.
Channel Cat’s win was his second straight following his first stakes score in last month’s $400,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs. The 3-year-old son of English Channel, a Calumet Farm-owned stallion, improved his overall record to 12-4-2-2 with $521,792 in earnings.
Channel Cat returned $ to win, $ to place, and $ to show. Place brought back $ to place and $ to show, while Show paid $ to show.