English Channel and Chattahoochee War take their rivalry up a notch when they meet in Saturday's $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) for 3-year-olds at Arlington Park. They finished one-two in the 1 1/4-mile Virginia Derby (gr. IIIT) July 16 at Colonial Downs, with English Channel taking command from pacesetter Chattahoochee War in the stretch to win by 3 1/4 lengths.
English Channel, the 2-1 favorite in the 1 1/4-mile Secretariat, also will have the $5-million Grand Slam of Grass bonus riding on the outcome of the Secretariat. The bonus goes to a horse that wins the Virginia Derby, Secretariat, Colonial Cup Turf, and the Oct. 29 John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT). English Channel is halfway there, since he also won the June 25 Colonial Cup Turf. He sports a career record of five wins from six starts.
Chattahoochee War, the 5-1 fourth choice, will be looking for his third stakes win on grass. He earlier won the Central Bank Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland and the Hill Rise Stakes at Santa Anita.
The Secretariat also boasts the first two in the July 23 American Derby (gr. IIT) at 9 1/2 furlongs at Arlington. Gun Salute, the 3-1 third choice in the Secretariat, and Purim, the 5-2 second choice, were only separated by a nose in the American Derby, with Gun Salute getting the nod. It marked the first loss for Purim, who won the June 25 Arlington Classic Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Arlington.
Crossing the pond to contest the Secretariat are Grand Central and Merger from Ireland and Embossed from England. Embossed prepped for the Secretariat in a July 24 allowance race at Arlington and finished third. Merger was unplaced in the American Derby. All three are group-placed overseas.
Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT)
Post Horse Trainer Jockey Odds
1. English Channel Todd Pletcher John Velazquez 2-1
2. Purim Thomas Proctor Mark Guidry 5-2
3. Gun Salute William Mott Cornelio Velasquez 3-1
4. Grand Central Aidan O'Brien Kieren Fallon 10-1
5. Legal Precedent Ben Cecil Alex Solis 15-1
6. Merger Dermot Weld Darryl Holland 15-1
7. Chattahoochee War Robert Frankel Patrick Valenzuela 5-1
8. Embossed Niall O'Callaghan Jerry Bailey 30-1