ELMONT, NY – For the second straight weekend, trainer Bill Mott took home the weekend’s main event, this time thanks to Channel Maker‘s perfectly-timed rally that put him in front in the shadow of the wire to win Saturday’s Man o’ War Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park.
Breaking from post 8 under Joel Rosario at 6/1 odds, Channel Maker sat third as the field spread out in the early going. Up front, Hunting Horn set blazing opening fractions of :22.98, :47.47, 1:12.48, and 1:36.27 while at one point leading by more than 8 lengths. That lead began to wane midway through the far turn, and by the time he straightened for home, Hunting Horn was gasping for air.
Though he fought valiantly to hold on as long as he could, Hunting Horn finally yielded in the final 1/16 of a mile to Channel Maker, who got the first jump off of the turn and was just ahead of Arklow and Magic Wand. Digging in deep, Channel Maker held off the late-rallying pair behind him to win by a neck in a final time of 2:12.43 for the 1 3/8-mile event over the firm turf course.
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“He’s a good horse and runs hard all the time,” Rosario said. “I’m glad we got the money today. I thought the horse around the last turn might keep going, but I thought he was going too fast for the distance and the last 1/2-furlong would be tough to get. I felt confident, and he’s the kind of horse that has a good, strong stride. The more you ride him, the more he gives to you.”
Arklow crossed a 1/2-length ahead of the filly Magic Wand, who closed well but just couldn’t get there in time and could only neck out her Aidan O’Brien stablemate Hunting Horn for third. Epical had tracked the pace from second but had nothing left in the stretch run and weakened to fifth ahead of Focus Group, the 5/2 favorite who similarly had no go when it really mattered. Zulu Alpha, Village King, and Kulin Rock completed the order of finish.
Channel Maker’s win was his first since wiring the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (G1) here last summer and improved his overall record to 24-5-4-3. The Ontario-bred 5-year-old gelded son of English Channel has now earned $1,917,108 for co-owners Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R. A. Hill Stable, and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing.
“I always thought the horse could go to the front or lay off it,” said co-owner Randy Hill. “He has tactical speed and there was speed in the race today. Joel rode a perfect race and was right where he needed to be. The horse bounced back off of two subpar performances.”
Channel Maker returned $15.60 to win, $7.20 to place, and $4.90 to show. Arklow brought back $7 to place and $4.30 to show, while Magic Wand paid $3.60 to show.