ENGLISH CHANNEL’s daughter Ann of the Dance put up one of the more dazzling stretch runs of the summer to break her maiden at first asking, and on Sunday, she came back to beat the boys in a two-turn, first-level allowance over Arlington Park’s main track. Third last well off the leaders, the bay filly made steady progress on the rail before coming out a bit to split horses decisively two furlongs from home. Once she switched leads at the 3/16ths pole, it was all over, as the 5-2 shot opened up at will to score by a widening 6 1/2 lengths. “Ann of the Dance runs out impressively!” exclaimed track announcer John Dooley. “She pulled away with aplomb!”
Meanwhile, a week after ENGLISH CHANNEL’s Captain Webb opened his account in smart style over Saratoga’s lawn, the 2-year-old colt Optimizer put up a similarly impressive effort at the Spa Aug. 6. A son of the A.P. INDY mare Indy Pick, Optimizer was overlooked at the windows for the 1 1/16-mile event, but proved he was a massive overlay. According to the official chart, he was “unhurried for nearly three-quarters, picked up the pace nearing the end of the far turn, fanned into the six path settling into upper stretch, found his best stride leaving the eighth pole, drew alongside the front runners a short distance past the sixteenth pole, took over soon afterwards and inched away, crossing the wire under hand encouragement.” Optimizer was a neck in advance of the post-time favorite, the Todd Pletcher-trained Longwood Lane, by LANGFUHR.
Optimizer, a Bluegrass Hall homebred, is trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. Bluegrass Hall is the nom de course of Brad Kelley, who co-owns ENGLISH CHANNEL, the champion son of SMART STRIKE. Optimizer is an example of the support ENGLISH CHANNEL has received at stud, as Indy Pick, acquired for $260,000, was one of several mares Kelley purchased to breed to him. The mare foaled an ENGLISH CHANNEL filly this spring. Optimizer hails from the great Phipps family of Dancing Spree, Heavenly Prize, et al, and is a grandson of the Grade 1 winner Fantastic Find (Mr. Prospector). Indy Pick is thus a half to MG1SW Finder’s Fee. ENGLISH CHANNEL is now the fifth-ranked Kentucky sire in the nation, just behind Lane’s End’s other star freshman, AFTER MARKET (Storm Cat).