Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Channel Maker Wins Breeders' Stakes in Photo Finish to Spoil Contreras' Bid

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Channel Maker Wins Breeders' Stakes in Photo Finish to Spoil Contreras' Bid

Article excerpt

Channel Maker wins Breeders' Stakes


TORONTO - Rafael Hernandez and Channel Maker spoiled Luis Contreras's second run at Canadian horse-racing history Sunday.

Hernandez rode 8/5 favourite Channel Maker to a photo-finish victory in the $400,000 Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack. That spoiled the day for Contreras, who was attempting to win a personal Triple Crown for the second time since 2011 aboard Cool Catomine.

Contreras had Cool Catomine second for much of the 1 1/2-mile race, the horse's first-ever on turf. But Cool Catomine faded badly down the stretch, finishing last in the 10-horse field.

Contreras won the $1-million Queen's Plate with Holy Helena before riding Cool Catomine to a stirring win in the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes as a 14/1 longshot. In 2011, Contreras became the first jockey to capture all three Triple Crown races with different horses, securing the Plate with Inglorious before claiming the Prince of Wales and Breeders' Stakes titles with Pender Harbour.

Hernandez had Channel Maker ninth through a mile before taking the lead down the stretch. He and Channel Maker ran neck-and-neck with Patrick Husbands and Final Copy to the finish line, securing the win by a nose courtesy of a late head bob.

But Hernandez couldn't celebrate immediately as stewards addressed three separate inquiries, including two on the winner from the riders of Glencairn and Seeking Albert regarding separate incidents of alleged interference. After some anxious moments, all three were disallowed, preserving Channel Maker's win on a firm E.P. Taylor turf course in 2:29.70.

"I know I tried to keep my horse straight," Hernandez said. "He's a difficult horse to ride.

"But thank God, nothing happened. He finished good, I like the way he finished."

Channel Maker didn't make it easy for his rider. Hernandez said when the chestnut gelding runs he sometimes does so with his head high, making it harder on the jockey to maintain his mount's focus and keep him running straight.

"He's weird," Hernandez said. …

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