Sent to the front by Luis Saez when no one else wanted to go, the 13-1 chance proceeded to set fractions of :24.66, :49.87, 1:15.52, and 1:39.14. Coming under pressure turning for home and through the stretch, the Calumet Farm homebred found more and outlasted Chilean invader Ya Primo and others to win by a half-length.
Channel Cat finished up 1 3/8 miles on the firm inner turf in 2:14.43 and paid $29.20. Ya Primo held second by a neck over Arklow, with 5-2 favorite and 2018 Bowling Green co-winner Channel Maker in fourth.
“We wanted to get away cleanly and get some position going into the first turn, and it’s not a real long run going into the first turn going a mile and three eighths,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “We didn’t want to get hung out on three turns, but he kind of caught a flyer and relaxed, and Luis was riding with so much confidence. When you make a decision like that, sometimes it works out.”
This was the first graded stakes win for Channel Cat, who captured the $400,000 Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs and the $150,000 Bald Eagle Derby at Laurel last fall. He had placed in only two of his previous seven graded attempts, though his best finish was a close third as the favorite in the June 22 United Nations (G1) at Monmouth Park. His record now stands at 16-5-2-3, $738,292.
Channel Cat, a four-year-old son of the Pletcher-trained turf champion English Channel, was produced by Carnival Kitten, by Kitten’s Joy.