It seems like every week a new son or daughter of ENGLISH CHANNEL is making an impression on the track, and this past week was no different. On Independence Day, his 3-year-old son Blueskiesnrainbows made all in the G2 Swaps S. to become ENGLISH CHANNEL’s first graded winner. The colt is trained by the red-hot Bob Baffert and owned by Bad Boy Racing LLC and Whizway Farms. Bred by the late Ned Evans, he is a Lane’s End sales grad! Blueskiesnrainbows had previously finished a close-up third in the G1 Santa Anita Derby, beaten less than a length by now dual Classic winner I’ll Have Another and Preakness third Creative Cause.
Then on Sunday, July 8, ENGLISH CHANNEL’s 3-year-old daughter Trois Aureole captured her first stakes victory in the Le Cle S. at Betfair Hollywood Park. The J.W. Singer-owned, John Sadler-trained filly was winning her third race in her last four starts, and becomes ENGLISH CHANNEL’s sixth lifetime stakes winner–that puts him in third among second-crop sires and ahead of Street Sense, Lawyer Ron, Corinthian, et al. Also over the weekend, ENGLISH CHANNEL’s 3-year-old daughter English Sunrise won a $59,000 first-level allowance race at Woodbine.
Just as his runners are making an impact on the track, ENGLISH CHANNEL is making an impact on North America’s leading sire lists. As of July 9, ENGLISH CHANNEL is the #3 sophomore sire in North America, the #2 sophomore sire by number of 2012 stakes winners (5), the co-#3 sophomore sire by black-type horses (12), the #4 sire among ALL stallions on the all-weather earnings list, and is a top 10 Kentucky sire on the turf earnings list.
ENGLISH CHANNEL’s ascension has been hurried along by an outstanding May and June. Leading the pack has been his son Strait of Dover, who dominated the C$1 million Queen’s Plate S. in track-record-setting fashion at Woodbine June 24. The Canyon Farms homebred, who crossed the line first in four straight heading into the first leg of Canada’s Triple Crown, took the early initiative, cut out honest fractions up front and never let them close in the stretch. “Good horses do good things,” said trainer Danny Vella. “We all like to take a little credit, but truthfully he’s a great horse, and that’s what it’s really about, the people that bred such a great horse and just being associated and being able to train these types of horses. It’s what us guys in this industry, that’s what we want to do.” Adding winning jockey Justin Stein, “I loved this horse all along. He’s shown me, and I have said it time and time again, that he is a racehorse. He wants to get out here and he wants to win.” The final time for the 1 1/4-mile event was 2:01 4/5. Canyon Farms is owned by Wally and Terry Leong. Finishing third in the Queen’s Plate was the DIXIE UNION filly Dixie Strike, previously the winner of the G3 Selene S.
In May, another son of ENGLISH CHANNEL announced himself on the sophomore scene with an gutsy first stakes win. Skyring, a homebred runner for Bluegrass Hall LLC and trainer D. Wayne Lukas, was trying the turf for the first time on the Preakness Stakes undercard when he led every step in the $100,000 James W. Murphy S. at Pimlico. He defeated another son of ENGLISH CHANNEL, favored Easy Crossing, while ROCK HARD TEN’s Mr. Handsome completed the Lane’s End trifecta. Their performances came a day after ENGLISH CHANNEL’s filly Seanchai ran second in the $100,000 Hilltop S. at Pimlico.
“This horse I liked the best of all mine all day long,” said Skyring’s Hall of Fame trainer, who also sent out ENGLISH CHANNEL’s Optimizer in the Preakness. “I felt real good about him. I even flirted with the idea of switching the two horses. [But] I was anxious to get [Skyring] on the grass. It worked out really well. I knew at the top of the stretch when they swarmed him, I said to myself, ‘He isn’t done yet.’ This horse really tries. I wouldn’t have any hesitation putting him back on the dirt, either. I think he’s very versatile.”
Lukas, who praised ENGLISH CHANNEL’s progeny as being “hickory tough and very competitive,” added of Skyring’s personality, “In the morning, I had to quit working him with other horses for the simple reason that there’s no such thing as an easy work with him. He thinks we’re getting paid at 6 a.m.”
That love-to-race attitude is a recurring theme among ENGLISH CHANNEL’s youngsters, and can be found in another Bluegrass Hall homebred trained by Lukas, the aforementioned Optimizer. 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, rallying to finish second behind Secret Circle. Optimizer, who was produced by an A.P. INDY mare, was second in last year’s G2 With Anticipation S. at Saratoga and also placed in the G1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October. Bluegrass Hall’s Brad Kelley, the majority owner of ENGLISH CHANNEL, recently made a huge splash in the industry when it was announced he was leasing the historic Calumet Farm.
On the last weekend of June, ENGLISH CHANNEL’s sons Star Channel–previously winner of the Sophomore Turf S. at Tampa–and Easy Crossing finished 2-3 in the London Company S. at Belmont park, while Ann of the Dance ran third in the Mariah’s Storm S. at Arlington Park.
May also saw ENGLISH CHANNEL’s son The Pizza Man easily win an Arlington Park optional claimer May 18 (he came back to win another Arlington optional claimer June 22); son Sark win a Churchill Downs maiden special May 13; and son English Progress take a maiden special at Hollywood May 4. Over in Europe, the colt One Dream Ticket captured a conditions event at prestigious Longchamp racecourse near Paris May 3.
At Keeneland, ENGLISH CHANNEL’s son Potomac River put up what the TDN called a “stunning performance” in his second career start, making a huge move on the backstretch to challenge for the lead and motoring down the lane to win going away by three lengths. The colt is owned and trained by William Helmbrecht.
ENGLISH CHANNEL is also the sire of another promising 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 at two. He recently came back at three to win an optional claiming race as the favorite at Gulfstream Apr. 5 and looks headed for stakes company next.
Last year 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.