by Brian Bohl
Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable’s Channel Maker surged to the front and outkicked a charging even-money favorite Robert Bruce in the stretch to post a 4 ½-length gate-to-wire victory in the 42nd running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic as part of September Super Saturday at Belmont Park.
Channel Maker notched his second graded stakes win in three starts, adding to his dead heat victory in the Grade 2 Bowling Green on July 28 at Saratoga, and in the process earned a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf on November 3 at Churchill Downs.
Jockey Jose Ortiz sent Channel Maker to the front on the Widener turf course labeled soft, dueling with the Irish-bred Teodoro with the opening quarter-mile in 25.05 seconds and the half in 50.52 as the duo gained separation on the rest of the seven-horse field on the backstretch.
“He was relaxed the whole way around. He had been running well the last three races,” said Ortiz