Well, she’s coming.
Enable, the winner of the last two Prix de L’Arc de Triomphes, is set to catch a flight to America and go heavily favored in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. And there will undoubtedly be others coming from Europe for the race along with her. It’s no surprise. As I have ranted here before, the American turf runners are weak and our biggest races continue to be ripe for the picking for even mid-level stakes horses from across the pond, never mind the best of the bunch. That’s a widely-held belief that I can’t take credit for. But what if, WHAT IF, there is an American turf horse who could sneak in among the big name Euros and put up a career-best effort that is good enough to keep the BC Turf trophy here within our shores at a big price while everyone else is trying to outsmart each other and pick that sneaky Euro who might be able to topple Enable?
Let’s focus only on Channel Maker’s 2018 campaign simply because he’s taken a big step up since turning 4 and I don’t see the need to delve into what he did last year. As you’ll notice, the first three races of the year were at 8 and 9 furlongs. And he ran just fine against solid competition. At first glance, you might say he had the look of an up-and-comer who might put it all together one day and become a Grade 1 winner that those distances. But starting in June, they decided to focus on the marathon distances, which is the distance at which he had had his signature success up at Woodbine last year. And since tackling the longer races, he has been nothing short of…well, I don’t want to use the word “sensational”. But he’s definitely shown marked improvement. If you go back and watch his replays, you’ll probably come away with the same impression I did, which is that with some slightly quicker paces to chase up front here and a little less traffic there, he’s looking at a streak of four consecutive Grade 1 wins. At the very least, I think it’s clear he’s the best American turf marathoner. And you might even say he’s on the verge of running his best race at the right time.
You don’t need to say it, because I know what you’re going to say. Glorious Empire, Sadler’s Joy, Spring Quality, and Hi Happy aren’t even in the same league as Enable, Crystal Ocean, and whatever other Euros come over. I get that, and I agree. Obviously. But in a year when just about everyone, including me, has written off the Americans in this division, it might not be a bad idea to see if you can work Channel Maker into your BC Turf plays. Don’t forget that Beach Patrol managed to run 2nd in the race last year, defeating Highland Reel. And that 108 Beyer Speed Figure Channel Maker earned when winning the Hirsch is equal to the number Talismanic received when winning this last year.
Let’s not concede this race to the Europeans just yet. Although I have to admit, it’s going to take a lot of good luck to beat them.