Channel Lady Leads Wire-to-Wire in Suwannee River
James Scatuorchio and J.J. Pletcher’s 4-year-old filly Channel Lady usually stalks near the pace in her races, but when no one else showed any early speed in Saturday’s $150,000 Suwannee River Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park jockey Javier Castellano let her go to the front while setting pokey early fractions of 50 1/5 and 1:14 2/5.
Channel Lady was never headed while holding a safe margin of three-quarters of a length at the finish in the 1 1/8 miles turf test over Phipps Stable’s stretch-running 5-year-old Abaco.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Channel Lady was a $25,000 Keeneland November weanling purchase by Scatuorchio’s 2007 Eclipse champion turf runner English Channel, and was winning for the fourth time with two seconds in as many start on turf following a fifth-place debut in an ‘off the turf’ maiden race here last winter.
Channel Lady just missed by a half-length when second last out in the Marshua’s River Stakes (G3) over the course on Jan. 5 in her first start since November at Aqueduct. Donver Stable’s 5-year-old Canadian champion Inglorious rallied for third, a nose behind Abaco in the highly-accomplished field of seven fillies and mares.
“She’s been a very good, reliable filly for us from the start,” said Pletcher of Channel Lady. “We think she might be best settling in behind the pace, but when we looked at this race there didn’t look like there was much speed in there. As it turned out there was no pace (50 and 1:14) and Javier (Castellano) did the right thing to let her go ahead to the front.
“English Channel was so good at a mile-and-half that I think she’ll go longer when we ask her. Right now we still have the Honey Fox (Mar. 16) turning back to a mile here and we’ll seriously consider that.”
"I handicapped the race and didn't see much speed,” said Castellano. “Romacaca was the only horse I was concerned with for speed and she broke out of the gate well but didn't dictate the pace. I took my best shot and it worked out great going to the lead wire to wire. She ran huge."
Channel Lady paid $9.60 for $2 to win while timed in 1:48:82 over the ‘firm’ course.