Breeding Watch: Channel surfing

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English Channel and Harlan’s Holiday each sired a pair of weekend stakes winners and the latest good ones from Yes It’s True and Birdstone are products of quickly emerging crosses.

With runners like Grade 1 winners Curliana and Stellar Wind, Lane’s End Farm’s Curlin has been the Smart Strike son most in the news in 2015. This past weekend, though, it was English Channel’s turn.

Smart Strike’s 2007 champion turf male, now stationed in the historic Calumet Farm stud barn, was represented by a couple of stakes winners in the Midwest Saturday.

The veteran gelding The Pizza Man (dam by Lear Fan) delivered again in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Stakes going 12 furlongs for the second straight year. The 6-year-old Illinois-bred has now earned nine stakes trophies for Midwest Thoroughbreds and is less than $100,000 shy of topping $1 million for his career.

The Pizza Man will most likely try to get over that milestone in next month’s Grade 1 Arlington Million, forgoing a chance a repeat in the American St. Leger the same afternoon.

Pumpkin Rumble (dam by Storm Cat) rolled home to nab the grassy $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile Saturday at Canterbury Park. The 4-year-old Pennsylvania-bred is the 18th stakes winner from the 242 starters in English Channel’s first four crops, a 7 percent strike rate of stakes winners from starters.

The late Smart Strike has sired at least five stakes winners – three of them graded stakes winners – out of direct daughters of Storm Cat and English Channel is the third Smart Strike son to follow suit after Curlin and Lookin At Lucky. Storm Cat is now the broodmare sire of 217 black-type winners, an impressive 7 percent from starters.

Progeny of the late Storm Cat grandson Harlan’s Holiday also struck in a pair of weekend stakes.

Kaleem Shah’s 3-year-old miss Fantastic Style crushed her elders by 3 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2 Great Lady M. Stakes at Los Alamitos Race Course. Out of a mare by the Gone West son Mr. Greeley, it was the second lifetime stakes victory, and first at the graded level, for the $525,000 2014 OBS April 2-year-olds in training sale graduate.

It’s been musical names for many major Southern California stakes events with the demise of the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita and the demolition of Hollywood Park.

The Great Lady M. was formerly run at Hollywood as the A Gleam Handicap and is now named for 1980 A Gleam winner.

Great Lady M would go on to produce the great Hall of Famer Lady’s Secret, perhaps Secretariat’s best runner. Lady’s Secret once had a graded stakes race named for her at Oak Tree at Santa Anita until it was renamed for another great – future Hall of Famer Zenyatta.


Back on the East Coast, the Harlan’s Holiday gelding Holiday Star was a game winner of the 12-furlong Cape Henlopen Stakes on the grass at Delaware Park. The Augustin Stables homebred was finding the winner’s circle for the first time since capturing the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes last October at Keeneland Race Course. Holiday Star is among the two graded stakes winners for Harlan’s Holiday from 13 starters out of daughters of Deputy Minister.

The quietly consistent Yes It’s True notched another graded stakes winner Saturday when Calamity Kate caused a shock to the tote board at 54-1 in the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks.

The latest graded stakes winner from the George and Lori Hall stable was runner-up to runaway Condo Commando in last fall’s Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct and was coming of an eighth-place run behind Curalina in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard.


Yes It’s True, who stands at Three Chimney’s Farm, is now the sire of 54 stakes winners (7 percent stakes winners from starters) and 14 graded stakes winners.

The son of Is It True is doing especially exceptional work with daughters of WinStar Farm’s Tiznow as Calamity Kate is his second 2015 stakes winner out of mares by the Horse of the Year and two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner. The other, the 3-year-old A Day in Paradise, took home the Texas Heritage Stakes in late February.

Tiznow is now the broodmare sire of 11 black-type winners, seven at the graded level, including recent Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap Noble Bird, a son of Birdstone.

Gainesway Farm’s Birdstone is the sire of Los Al’s Summertime Juvenile Championship Stakes winner Swipe.

A $5,000 yearling purchase at last year’s Keeneland September yearling sale, the colt earned his first victory in the event after starts in a Santa Anita maiden special and in Belmont Park’s newly enriched Tremont Stakes, where he finished third. Swipe is one of six Birdstone runners out of mares by the Gone West son Grand Slam and the second stakes hero after the 2014 Ontario Derby victor Florida Won.

Of Birdstone’s 16 career stakes winners, ten have now earned stakes victories as 2-year-olds.

Matt O’Neil is a freelance writer and pedigree consultant based in Chicago. A former editor of Owner-Breeder International, his work has also appeared in numerous publications that include The Blood-Horse MarketWatch, The Florida Horse and Keeneland Magazine. He is currently marketing and social media coordinator for Adena Springs Farm and a partner in the fantasy horse racing game