It’s always exciting when a sire whose progeny are expected to be best going two turns come out running at two. Precocity and endurance: it’s an enviable combination. These are the traits being displayed by ENGLISH CHANNEL’s first-crop runners. In fact, among active sires, the champion and Breeders’ Cup hero is Kentucky’s seventh-ranked freshman sire. Even better, he is the co-fourth-ranked sire in the nation with four stakes horses. Perhaps most importantly, his offspring are getting it done on the biggest stages–his stakes performers have come at Saratoga, Keeneland, Monmouth, Aqueduct and Arlington Park.
Now, ENGLISH CHANNEL’s youngsters are living up to the promise they showed in 2011. None more so than the Triple Crown hopeful Optimizer, a homebred runner for Bluegrass Hall LLC and trainer D. Wayne Lukas. After a tough trip in the G2 Risen Star S. at Fair Grounds, Optimizer rebounded in a big way in the G2 Rebel S. on the dirt at Oaklawn Mar. 17. Sitting in eighth through the opening half mile, he “came six wide into the stretch…angled inside [Secret Circle] and finished full of run to be getting to that rival late,” according to the official chart. “Two more jumps and I think I would have gotten there,” jockey Jon Court said of the half-length margin. “I won three races today, and I think I would have traded them for this one. I’m not complaining because this horse is really nice.”
Optimizer, who was produced by an A.P. INDY mare, opened his account last August with a late-running score against Saratoga maiden special weight foes, ran the well-regarded State of Play to a half-length in the G2 With Anticipation S. at the Spa, then unleashed an eye-catching rally to fill the show spot in the G1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October.
On the Rebel undercard on St. Patrick’s Day at Oaklawn, another son Bluegrass Hall homebred son of ENGLISH CHANNEL made a nice impression. Skyring, a colt bred on roughly the same cross as Optimizer, being out of a Seattle Slew mare, got his neck down in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight. Skyring is also trained by the Hall of Famer Lukas.
A week earlier, ENGLISH CHANNEL’s 3-year-old daughter Seanchai, a $110,000 yearling and a half to the Group 1 performer Traffic Guard, registered the debut win facing Tampa Bay maiden special foes. She was bred by Frank and John R. Penn. That followed on the heels of a sharp maiden special victory by the colt Irish Sea at Gulfstream for owner/breeder Mount Joy Stables and trainer Chad Brown.
ENGLISH CHANNEL is also the sire of another promising juvenile colt in the form of James T. Scatuorchio’s homebred Captain Webb, a maiden special winner going two turns at Saratoga and later placed in the one-mile King Cugat S. at Aqueduct. ENGLISH CHANNEL’s son Channel Quest, meanwhile, ran second in the one-mile Continental S. at Monmouth while still a maiden.
ENGLISH CHANNEL’s daughter Ann of the Dance was simply awesome the day she overcame a terrible start to win a 5 1/2-furlong maiden dash at Arlington over the summer. She stretched out to beat males in an allowance event at the track in August, then rallied from last to place in the G3 Arlington-Washington Lassie S. in September. In December, she closed out her year with a good third in the grassy Ginger S. at Gulfstream, when she clipped heels but still came flying to be beaten just 3/4 lengths.
ENGLISH CHANNEL also has impressive maiden winners at Hollywood (Blueskiesnrainbows), Gulfstream Park (Star Channel), Woodbine (Strait of Dover, English Class), and Golden Gate (Dover Crossing).
At the sales, ENGLISH CHANNEL’s yearlings brought up to $200,000, and mares selling in foal to ENGLISH CHANNEL included the stakes winners Storm Alert (Storm Cat), Laurafina (Cozenne), She’s a Mugs (Doneraile Court)), Bauhauser (Arg) (Numerous), and India Divina (Chi) (Roy), meaning there will be some nice ENGLISH CHANNELs in the pipeline.
Undoubtedly, we’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg from ENGLISH CHANNEL’s runners. Considering what he’s already accomplished, that’s pretty exciting. Especially if you’ve got one in your barn.