All eyes are on the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico today, as they should be. However, the day is loaded with stakes races offering jackpots of $100,000 or more. Belmont Park's seventh is one of those races, the Grade I, $250,000 Joe Hirsh Stakes.
HorseRacingRadar had the good fortune of talking with CHANNEL MAKER (PP: 3 ML 5/2) co-owner Dean Reeves about his horse and how he sees the race taking shape. Team Reeves says they've spent the last year and a half, two years trying to unlock CHANNEL MAKER's code. He feels they solved the riddle.
"I have three other partners in this horse who are pretty sharp guys." Together, the team has worked with Hall of Fame trainer William Mott and switched jockeys to Manuel Franco.
Reeves gives a ton of credit to Franco, "Manny has done a great job on him and it's made a big difference." Adding, "[he] has done a great job of understanding that the horse can get a little rank very early if you don't let him run a little bit." So, the strategy for the Joe Hirsh Stakes is straight and fast, "we to need to be on lead. We've got to get a jump on everybody else."
The Georgia native continued, "[CHANNEL MAKER] doesn't have the fastest closing kick as some of the other horses will have." Reeves believes his horse's advantage is that CHANNEL MAKER doesn't get tired. Expect rider Franco to press the advantage by getting out of the gates in a hurry "if they catch us, they catch us," said Reeves.
The owner points to CHANNEL MAKER's last race at Saratoga. Franco took the son of ENGLISH CHANNEL to the lead and never looked back, running away from the field for a wire-to-wire win in the Grade I, Sword Dancer Stakes. Trainer William Mott follows a win with another win at 17%, one of the legendary trainer's top angles.
In looking at the Joe Hirsh Stakes, Reeves likes his chances, "He's always seemed to like the turf course at Belmont. I think [CHANNEL MAKER] is going to be tough. We've changed our tactics and I think he's come around to be a little tougher horse. He's going to be tough in the [Joe Hirsh] field."
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