Channel Maker, the 2020 Eclipse Award winner as champion turf male, and Red Knight, winner of the Man o’ War (G1) this spring, headline a field of 12 plus four also-eligibles entered today for the 29th running of the Sycamore (G3) on Oct. 13.
Run at 1½ miles on the turf, the Sycamore will go as the ninth race on the 10-race program with a 5:16 p.m. ET post time.
Trained by Bill Mott, the 9-year-old Channel Maker will be making his seventh start at Keeneland. His first race here was an allowance test in 2017; his best moments came in 2022 with a victory in the Elkhorn (G2) and in 2020 with a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
Fourth in the Sycamore last year, Channel Maker enters this year’s running off a sixth-place finish over yielding turf in the Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 26. In his race prior to that, Channel Maker scored a front-running victory in the Bowling Green (G2), a race he also won in 2018.
Channel Maker races for the partnership of Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R. A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing.
Florent Geroux will have the mount on Channel Maker, who will exit post 7.
Trinity Farm’s Red Knight, also a 9-year-old, will be making his sixth Keeneland start. His lone local victory came in the 2020 Sycamore. Trained by Mike Maker, Red Knight will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione from post 2.
Maker will send out another Grade 1 winner in Michael Dubb’s Therapist. Winner of the United Nations at Monmouth Park in July, Therapist will be ridden by Luis Saez and break from post 4.
The field for the Sycamore, with riders and weights from the rail out, is: Highest Honors (Flavien Prat, 121 pounds), Red Knight (Gaffalione, 125), Bold Act (IRE) (Jamie Spencer, 118), Therapist (Saez, 125), Tawny Port (Joel Rosario, 121), Cellist (Martin Garcia, 121), Channel Maker (Geroux, 125), Kitodan (Alex Achard, 121), Another Mystery (Jareth Loveberry, 121), Red Run (Ricardo Santana Jr., 121), Limited Liability (John Velazquez, 121), Foreign Relations (Julien Leparoux, 123). Also-Eligibles: Shawdyshawdyshawdy (Leparoux, 121), Me and Mr. C (Gerardo Corrales, 121), Britain’s Kitten (Francisco Arrieta, 121), Beacon Hill (Geroux, 121).
PLETCHER “LOCKED” AND LOADED FOR FALL STARS WEEKEND
Trainer Todd Pletcher has runners campaigning on four fronts this weekend, but the Racing Hall of Famer decided to spend the time in Lexington, where he has 10 runners entered in six stakes over three days at Keeneland.
The six stakes are Breeders’ Cup Challenge races with the winners earning fees-paid berth into their respective races for the World Championships Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita.
“This felt like the good spot to get the 2-year-olds to go around two turns,” said Pletcher, whose weekend begins this afternoon in the Jessamine (G2) Presented by Keeneland November with Appellate and then the Darley Alcibiades (G1) with Candied and Wine On Tap.
One 2-year-old who has been two turns is Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Walmac Farm’s Locked, the morning-line favorite for Saturday’s Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1).
“He was impressive the time he went two turns at Saratoga,” Pletcher said of the colt’s 7¼-length victory going a mile in his second start. “One reason he came here and Fierceness stayed in New York for the (one-turn, 1-mile) Champagne (G1) is that I thought the Champagne suited him better with the one start. It worked well that we could find a Grade 1 for both of them.”
Locked will start from the outside in post 9 and could give Pletcher victories in the race in consecutive years. He won with eventual champion Forte last year for his third win in the race and first since he went back to back in 2013 and 2014 with We Miss Artie and Carpe Diem.
Pletcher will have two runners in the $1 million Coolmore Turf Mile (G1) in defending champion Annapolis, owned by Bass Racing, and Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Up to the Mark.
Up to the Mark, daylight winner of the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs and the Resorts World Casino Manhattan (G1) at Belmont Park, will be making his first start since June 10.
“The timing of this race was good. We had a little hiccup with him and missed the Arlington Million (G1),” Pletcher said. “He has had six good works.”
The Coolmore Turf Mile is a “Win and You’re In” race for the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Up to the Mark’s past two victories came at 1 1/8 miles and 1¼ miles, and he is considered a possibility for the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at 1½ miles.
“We’ll make that decision after the race,” Pletcher said. “In a perfect world, there would be a race at a mile and a quarter.”
On Sunday, champion Nest returns to Keeneland for the Juddmonte Spinster (G1), a Win and You’re In race for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). She is owned by Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House.
“We know she likes this track,” Pletcher said of Nest, who last year was the daylight winner of the Central Bank Ashland (G1) and the favorite and fourth-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland. “We feel good about her that we got two races in her.”
PROSPECTIVE FIELDS FOR UPCOMING STAKES
$350,000 Franklin (G2), 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 5½ furlongs on turf (Entries taken Sunday; race is Sunday, Oct. 15): Bay Storm (Jonathan Thomas), Caravel (Brad Cox), Playlist (Wesley Ward), Star Guest (GB) (Charlie Appleby), Twilight Gleaming (IRE) (Ward).