Kentucky-bred Channel Cat led at every call and fended off race favorite Gufo to win the $700,000 Man o’War Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on May 8.
Ridden by John Velazquez, Channel Cat broke sharply and led the eight-horse field through fast early fractions of :22.60 for the quarter-mile and :47.53 for the half over a turf course rated as good. After six furlongs in 1:12.45, Channel Cat maintained his advantage around the far turn. In a determined effort, Channel Cat held all challengers at bay through the lane to score narrowly over fellow Kentucky-bred Gufo at the finish of 1 3/8 miles. The win, accomplished in 2:13.34, gave trainer Jack Sisterson his initial Grade 1 victory at Belmont Park and made Channel Cat a millionaire. His record now stands at 26-6-3-5.
“I didn’t think we went that fast,” Velazquez said. “I knew we were going fast, but not quite :22 and change. I gave him loose reins and he was a happy horse up front. I was happy with the way that he was doing thigs.”
It was the first win in the last 10 starts for Channel Cat and his first victory since winning the Bowling Green Stakes (G2) in 2019 at Saratoga. A homebred for Calumet Farm, Channel Cat is a 6-year-old son of English Channel and he is produced from the Kitten’s Joy mare Carnival Kitten. In his previous outing, Channel Cat finished a game second in the Elkhorn Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.
“He came into the race in great shape,” Sisterson said. “He ran a great race in the Elkhorn off the layoff and finished up good, closing into fast fractions.”