Channel Maker and Glorious Empire dead heat in thrilling G2 Bowling Green
by Brian Bohl
Channel Maker challenged pacesetter Glorious Empire in deep stretch, with the duo hitting the wire simultaneously in a dead heat for first in the 60th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
The third of four graded stakes on a packed card that also included the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy saw Glorious Empire, a 22-1 longshot, and 5-1 selection Channel Maker complete 1 3/8 miles over the soft inner turf in 2:19.41. It was the first dead heat in the Bowling Green, which had its first running in 1958.
Under jockey Julien Leparoux, Glorious Empire led an eight-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in 26.07 seconds and the half in 51.69. The Irish-bred 7-year-old maintained the lead out of the far turn and attempted to go gate-to-wire. But Channel Maker, ridden by Joel Rosario, gained ground from the outside and caught up in deep stretch as Sadler's Joy made a late bid, finishing a half-length behind the duo in the head-bobbing finish.
"He ran well. I thought for a second we had the horse on the inside [Glorious Empire] but he kept on running," Rosario said. "He was a little far away from me so I couldn't tell. I thought we won the race. We when he came back it was so close, very close."
Glorious Empire, who won against allowance company last out on June 28 at Delaware Park for trainer James Lawrence, II, posted his first graded stakes win. The Holy Roman Emperor gelding paid $21.40 on a $2 win bet. With each winner earning $93,750, Glorious Empire has now banked $317,147 in his career.
"We weren't quite sure if he would like soft ground, but that was the plan, to get the lead and try to slow it down," Lawrence said. "It just worked out. Just worked out. We wanted to get him out there by himself and let him settle, and hopefully, get away with easy fractions. At the top of the lane I didn't think they would catch him."
Glorious Empire relished the stretch out in distance, the idea which came upon the advice from a Hall of Famer in his last start.
"I owe it to Edgar Prado, the Hall of Fame jockey who rode him last time," Lawrence said. "He said, 'Chuck, this horse wants to go further. I really believe this horse will go a mile and a quarter.' We stretched it out a little further."
Channel Maker won for the first time in eight starts, all against graded stakes company, paying $7.40. He improved his career earnings to $630,000. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott won the Bowling Green for the fourth time and first since Al Khali in 2010.
"We had him in some very tough races and he is a sort of a come-from-behind horse," Mott said. "Sometimes, he's had to deal with a lot of traffic and he has had some trips where he has been stopped and shuffled around a bit. He got a clear run today and it paid off today. We got there, I just wish we go one inch further, but it was still a good race and I'm proud of the horse and proud of everyone who has done a good job with the horse and thankful to the owners letting us run him in these good races."
Sadler's Joy registered a third-place finish by a half-length in the Bowling Green for a second straight year, mirroring his 2017 performance in which Hunter O'Reilly won a blanket finish by a neck. The Tom Albertrani trainee had finished second in his last two starts against Grade 1 competition in both the Manhattan on June 9 and the Man o' War on May 12, both at Belmont. Sadler's Joy losing margins in his last three races combined is less than two lengths.
Bigger Picture, Highland Sky, Hi Happy, the 8-5 favorite, Manitoulin and Sarrasin completed the order of finish. Money Multiplier, the 2-1 morning-line favorite, was scratched.