Since several trainers and jockeys had left town for other races, the post-Breeders' Cup World Championships press breakfast Oct. 28 was sparsely attended by the connections of the previous day's winners. But a big announcement came from owner Jim Scatuorchio: English Channel will be retired to stud next year at a Kentucky farm.
The 5-year-old son of Smart Strike out of the Theatrical mare Belva finished his career in a big way Oct. 27 with a victory in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT). He is not expected to race again before his stallion contract begins for the 2008 season.
While Scatuorchio did not specify the farm at which English Channel will stand, he said an announcement would be made Oct. 30 with syndication and stud fee information.
"I made a deal with this horse before his last race that we would retire him to stud," said Scatuorchio, whose Breeders' Cup victory was especially sweet since he is a resident of New Jersey.
English Channel's transition to stud has come at an opportune time, considering the immense success of his sire the last two months.
Fifteen-year-old Smart Strike was represented by three grade I winners on the Sept. 30 race card at Belmont Park. Smart Strike had an additional winner on the Oct. 27 Breeders’ Cup World Championships card at Monmouth Park with Curlin in the $5 million Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I). It was recently announced that Smart Strike's fee would be doubled from $75,000 to $150,000 for 2008.
"We've gotten a lot of offers over the last three or four months, especially since Smart Strike has become so popular," said Scatuorchio, who added the terms of the stallion offer he accepted for English Channel included a bonus for his Breeders' Cup victory.
The stallion contract contains a clause that allows Scatuorchio to retain an interest in English Channel.
"I think (English Channel) will be a good stallion … he's not a particularly big horse, but a lot of successful stallions aren't that big," said Scatuorchio, citing well-known sire Danzig as a prime example. "I believe in (English Channel's) determination, and I hope that transcends into his offspring."
Scatuorchio added that he had spoken earlier in the day to trainer Todd Pletcher, who told him the colt had come out of the Turf in good shape. English Channel will retire from racing with a lifetime record of 13-4-1 from 23 starts and earnings of $5,319,028. He is a two-time winner of the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont Park and the United Nations Stakes (gr. IT) at Monmouth.