A clear early lead and a liking for a turf course softened by an afternoon thunderstorm Aug. 29 was a recipe for success for Channel Maker in the $500,000 Sword Dancer Stakes (G1T) at Saratoga Race Course.
The 6-year-old English Channel gelding went to the lead under Manny Franco and was never challenged en route to an emphatic 5 3/4-length victory. Cross Border ran second, followed by stablemate and third-place finisher Aquaphobia. Sadler’s Joy was fourth, while Corelli, Pedro Cara, and Marzo completed the order of finish.
“I made the lead and tried to open up to let them know I wanted to go, and they let me go. It worked out good for me,” said Franco, who next week will pilot favored Tiz the Law in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) at Churchill Downs.
The Sword Dancer was a Breeders’ Cup Challenge event for the Nov. 7 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1T) at Keeneland.
“That water gets very deep. We’ve tried it a couple times and it hasn’t worked out with him. You get a whole different group of horses,” he said. “But who knows? There was a year at Keeneland where it was a bottomless ground, and if that situation came up, maybe he would benefit from it.”