At the ripe age of 8, veteran campaigner Channel Maker continued his winning ways by bravely capturing the $145,500 Grand Couturier Stakes at 1 1/2 miles for older horses over Belmont Park‘s Widener turf race.
The Grand Couturier score marked the ninth career stakes victory for Channel Maker, the 2020 champion turf male, who has won at least one stakes race in six of his seven years of racing, dating back to the 2016 Vandal Stakes at Woodbine during his juvenile season.
After missing the break and running ninth in the Resorts World Casino Manhattan Stakes (G1T) June 11 at Belmont, Channel Maker flaunted his usual head-high front-running tactics Friday, going to the lead with fractions of :25.02, :50.47, and 1:16.31 under Luis Saez.
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Challenged in the stretch by Soldier Rising , who took a midstretch lead from him, Channel Maker dug deep to win by a neck in a final time of 2:27.54. Soldier Rising finished another length ahead of Highest Honors followed by British Royalty and Admission Office .
Saez, aboard Channel Maker for a victory in the Elkhorn Stakes (G2T) at Keeneland this spring, is the sixth jockey to have won aboard Channel Maker, who returned $4.50 as the favorite.
“He always tries—that’s him. He’s always waiting on other horses, and today he came to the top of the stretch and was fighting,” Saez said. “He finally got the jump in the last bit. He fights and he doesn’t win that impressively, but he can run in a little stakes or a big stakes the same. He just wants to be there first and he doesn’t want to give in to anyone.”
Channel Maker after his victory in the Grand Couturier Stakes
Now boasting a record of 9-6-5 in 40 starts and earnings in excess of $3.6 million, Channel Maker continues to leave his connections in awe. Dean Reeves of Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, co-owners with RA Hill Stable, Gary Barber, and Wachtel Stable, credited Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott for keeping the horse in good form.
“To keep an 8-year-old at this level—a horse that’s come back from overseas—and has won so many grade 1s is impressive. He’s got the horse to work with, who has tremendous heart,” Reeves said. “He wants to be on the lead and you’ve got to come beat him. He showed today his tenacity and heart—if they were all like that we’d be having blanket finishes. He’s a fan favorite and it’s great that he’s stayed around for this long, so the fans really get to where they know Channel Maker.”
Bred in Ontario by Tall Oaks Farm, Channel Maker is out of the stakes-winning, black-type producing Horse Chestnut mare In Return . Her other progeny are stakes-winning, multiple graded stakes-placed Short Return four-time winner Proud Vixen, and grade 1 winner Johnny Bear a full brother to Channel Maker.