News and STORIES

Sadler's Joy, Channel Maker Face Off in Tiller Stakes

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Wednesday June 03, 2020
The $80,000 Tiller Stakes at Belmont Park on Thursday will highlight the return of racing to New York. The 1 3/8-mile event for older horses is set to have an impressive field.

There are 13 regular entries and two main track entrants, led by Woodslane Farm's homebred and multi-millionaire Sadler's Joy. 

Sadler's Joy

A 7-year-old son of Kitten's Joy, Sadler's Joy has started twice at Gulfstream Park this year. In the Jan. 25 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes (G1T), he was bumped at the start and ran wide, moving up from 12th to finish sixth. 

In the Feb. 29 Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2T), he made it up to third. 

Both of the races were won by Zulu Alpha. 

"We've had a long break with him between races, but he runs well off the bench," trainer Tom Albertrani said. "He seems to be training as well as he's ever been, and we're excited to get back going again. He's had a tough trip in his last two races. 

"In the Pegasus, he got banged pretty good leaving the gate and lost a lot of ground early on in the race. In his last race, he had a little traffic trouble in the last turn, but he still managed to run well."

According to Albertrani, the Tiller could prepare Sadler's Joy for a third shot at the July 4 Manhattan Stakes (G1T) at Belmont. He finished third in the 2017 edition and second beaten by a neck in 2018. 

In the 2017 Sword Dancer Stakes (G1T) at Saratoga Race Course, he finished first. He also placed in eight other grade 1 races.

"We've been fortunate enough to have horses in the barn like Twilight Eclipse, who was still running when he was 8 years old. Sadler's Joy still has the same kind of energy that we've seen in him when he was a 4-year-old," Albertrani said. "As long as we like how he's training and he shows that energy, we'll keep going forward with him."

Sadler's Joy will break from post 8 under jockey Javier Castellano.

Channel Maker

Sadler's Joy will meet one of his rivals in the form of Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R. A. Hill Stable, and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing's Channel Maker.

Sadler's Joy beat Channel Maker for third by a nose in the Mac Diarmida, and Channel Maker came out on top in his first grade 1 victory, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1T) in 2018. 

Trained by Bill Mott, he also won the 2019 Man o' War Stakes (G1T). 

Channel Maker is a multi-millionaire, and his last race was an eighth-place finish in the March 21 Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2T) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. That race ran at 1 1/8 miles.

He will break from post 13 under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. 

Both of the horses will carry 124 pounds along with Standard Deviation, who is a multiple stakes winner. He finished third in the Nov, 30 Hollywood Derby (G1T).

Others in the Field

The field will also include Petit Fils, a group 3 winner in France; Highland Sky, who won the John's Call Stakes last summer; Dot Matrix, winner of the Jan. 26 John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3T); and Focus Group, winner of the 2019 Pan American (G2T).

Todd Pletcher also has two entrants in Noble Indy and stablemate Current. 

Noble Indy won the 2018 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) and is coming off an allowance victory on March 15 at Gulfstream.

Current finished third in the March 28 Pan American and scored the 2018 Bourbon Stakes (G3).