Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational S. (gr. I)

(gr. IT , 12f ,)

ENGLISH CHANNEL (CH h, 126 lb) $360,000
Smart Strike —Belva , by Theatrical (IRE)
B—Keene Ridge Farm, KY.; O—James T. Scatuorchio; T—Todd A. Pletcher

Stream of Gold (IRE) (B g, 126 lb) $120,000
Rainbow Quest —River Dancer (IRE) , by Irish River (FR)
B—Ballymacoll Stud Farm Ltd., IRE.; O—Zabeel Racing International, Corp; T—Kiaran P. McLaughlin

Interpatation (DK B/ g, 126 lb) $60,000
Langfuhr —Idealistic Cause , by Habitony (IRE)
B—Jack O. Thompson, KY.; O—Elliot Mavorah; T—Robert Barbara

Margins: 2¼, 3, head. Others: Kiss the Kid 126($30,000) , Mission Approved 121($18,000) , Green Girl (FR) 123($12,000) , Mustanfar 126($12,000) . Winning Jockey, John R. Velazquez.

There is not much English Channel has not accomplished...except win the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT). On Oct. 27 at Monmouth Park, the 5-year-old son of Smart Strike will get his third chance to add that elusive win to his lengthy list of credentials.

At Belmont Park Sept. 30, English Channel won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) for the second consecutive year. And, one good sign for those wondering if he can win the Breeders’ Cup is that it is held this year at Monmouth Park, where in 2006 and 2007 English Channel won that track’s big grass race, the United Nations Stakes (gr. IT). Not only that, but he set a course record in the race both times, going the 11 furlongs in 2:13.24 in 2006 and 2:12.89 in 2007.

English Channel, who races for James Scatuorchio and is trained by Todd Pletcher, has won 12 of his 22 lifetime starts and is his sire’s leading earner, with winnings of $3,699,028. In the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Belmont Park, English Channel finished fifth in the race won by Shirocco, and last year at Churchill Downs, he ran third behind Red Rocks and Better Talk Now.

Statistics show many mares produce their best offspring in their first few foals and English Channel’s dam, the Theatrical mare Belva, is a prime example. English Channel is her first foal, she was barren the next year, and her second foal is English Channel’s graded stakes-placed full brother Sedgefield.

Belva has an unraced juvenile filly by Street Cry named Lura, a yearling filly by Aldebaran, and this year the unraced 9-year-old mare produced a filly by Ghostzapper.

All of Belva’s foals have been sold by their breeder, Keene Ridge Farm, most at the Keeneland September yearling sale, which is where Scatuorchio bought English Channel for $50,000 from the Eaton Sales consignment.

At the recent Keeneland auction, Keene Ridge Racing consigned the Aldebaran filly through Gainesway, agent, and she was purchased by Ecurie Des Monceaux for $350,000.

The highest price for one of her offspring was the $725,000 for her now 2-year-old, Lura, when she was purchased by John Ferguson, Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock agent. Lura was also consigned by Gainesway.

Keene Ridge, owned by Ann McBrayer, offered Belva at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale carrying the Ghostzapper filly. She was bought back on a bid of $2 million. Belva was not bred for 2008.

The second dam of English Channel is the English, Irish, and French champion Committed, by Hagley. She is the dam of two graded stakes-winning full sisters to Belva—Pharma (gr. IT) and Hap (gr. IIT).

English Channel is one of 51 stakes winners sired by Smart Strike, who on the same day was represented by Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (gr. I) winner Curlin and Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) winner Fabulous Strike. He is represented by 15 stakes winners in 2007 and the victories Sept. 30 vaulted him to the top of the general sire list, at $8.8 million. Smart Strike stands at Will Farish’s Lane’s End Farm near Versailles, Ky. His fee this year was $75,000.—D.M.L.