Virginia Derby (gr. III)

(gr. IIIT , 10f ,)

ENGLISH CHANNEL (CH h, 120 lb) $450,000
Smart Strike —Belva , by Theatrical (IRE)
B—Keene Ridge Farm, KY.; O—James T. Scatuorchio; T—Todd A. Pletcher

Chattahoochee War (B h, 120 lb) $150,000
War Chant —Buffalo Berry (IRE) , by Sri Pekan
B—Edmund J. Loder, KY.; O—Amerman Racing LLC; T—Robert J. Frankel

Rebel Rebel (IRE) (B h, 116 lb) $82,500
Revoque (IRE) —French Quarter (IRE) , by Ile de Bourbon
B—William P. Fogarty, IRE.; O—IEAH Stables; T—Robert J. Frankel

Margins: 3¼, ¾, ½. Others: Silver Whistle 116($45,000) , Crown Point 116($22,500) , Spring House 116 , Interpatation 118 , Rush Bay 120 , Rey de Cafe 118 . Winning Jockey, John R. Velazquez.

James Scatuorchio’s English Channel captured the second leg of the inaugural Jacobs Investments Grand Slam of Grass July 16 with a powerful 31/4-length win in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIIT) at Colonial Downs. The Smart Strike colt also used the course as the scene of a near-mirror-win in the June 25 Colonial Turf Cup Stakes.

A $5 million dollar bonus awaits should English Channel take the series’ third and fourth tests, the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Aug. 13, and the $2 million John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Belmont Oct. 29.

English Channel was bred by Ann McBrayer’s Keene Ridge Farm near Lexington and consigned to the 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale by Eaton Sales, agent. Scatuorchio purchased the colt for $50,000.

Six years retired from a 35-year career as a Wall Street investor, Scatuorchio said his wife (Terry) and kids (Courtney, 25, and Kevin, 23) get the final say on naming the stock but somehow he won with English Channel.

“I usually pick specific geographic regions, though mine seem to get rejected,” laughed Scatuorchio, who keeps a dozen horses in training, an interest in stallion More Than Ready, whom he raced, and five broodmares boarded at Taylor Made Farm.

“I figured with his pedigree, and the fact that many of the great grass horses come from Europe, it was a good fit.”

English Channel’s damsire, Theatrical, was champion on that surface in 1987 (including a win in the Breeders’ Cup Turf) and sire of turf champions. And though his dam, Belva, was unraced, she is out of the Hagley mare Committed, a champion sprinter in England and a champion miler and two-time champion older mare in France, who twice won the group I Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (Fr-I).

Committed also produced two stakes-winning full siblings to Belva, Hap, a millionaire and multiple grade II winner, and Pharma, winner of the 1996 Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IT).

Scatuorchio said he relied on J.J. Pletcher—one of his partners in graded stakes winner Dubleo—and his “great equine eye” for the purchase of his latest star.

“He’s not a robust horse,” said the owner, “and he’s a little small, like Hap was, but J.J. is a believer in balance, and English Channel has that.”

Belva produced a Street Cry filly March 1, and has been bred to Aldebaran.

Smart Strike is the sire of 32 other stakes winners, including 2005 added-money winners Shadow Cast (gr. II), Added Edge (gr. III), High Strike Zone (gr. III), Smart N Classy (gr. IIIT), Soaring Free (gr. IIIT), Gold Strike (Can-III), Brett’s Favrette, and Hatpin. Smart Strike stood the 2005 season at William S. Farish’s Lane’s End Farm for a fee of $35,000.—P.S.