By Sid Fernando
When V. E. Day thrust his long nose in front of stablemate Wicked Strong at the wire in the G1 Travers Stakes, he, believe it or not, became the first top-level winner for his successful sire English Channel. Until recently, the latter’s 12 Sws were all from his first crop, five-year-olds of 2014. English Channel is now the sire of 14 unrestricted SWs, eight of them Graded winners, including his new G1 winner. Aside from V. E. Day, in 2014 English Channel is represented by G2 winners Blueskiesnrainbows, Skyring, and Parranda, and by G3 winner Potomac River. Along with V. E. Day, English Channel got another recent three-year-old SW when Heart to Heart won the Listed $100,000 Better Talk Now S. at Saratoga on Aug. 20.
Most—11 of 14—of English Channel’s SWs are turf horses, so V. E. Day’s Travers was, no doubt, a welcome result for the stallion’s connections, Brad Kelley’s Calumet Farm. Kelley has been building up his broodmare band in recent years—he’s the breeder through his Bluegrass Hall LLC of V. E. Day and other English Channel graded winners Skyring, Optimizer, and Channel Lady (co-breeder)—and he’s going to be expanding his stallion roster as a result. Calumet already stands seven young stallions, and the historic nursery will add English Channel to the top of the roster for 2015.
Calumet will be the third home for English Channel since he entered stud. He started out in Lexington in 2008 at Hurricane Hall, which Kelley owned in partnership with Ben P. Walden Jr. et al, and when that nursery ended its stallion operation two years later, the son of Smart Strike and the Theatrical mare Belva was transferred to Lane’s End. Kelley is reaping the rewards of the majority interest he purchased in English Channel after the colt’s racing days were over, and bringing his own established sire to stand at historic Calumet Farm is no small triumph.
It’s not common in today’s environment of speed and precocity that a long-winded turf horse can emerge as a serious sire, but English Channel is a testament to both Kelley’s belief in the horse and his ability to support him. Ken and Sarah Ramsey did the same with their own turf champion Kitten’s Joy, and look at what he’s done!—he was the leading general sire of 2013.
To read more about English Channel, please click here.
Click here to see V. E. Day’s pedigree. Note the colt is bred on the same sire-line cross as Curlin, who is by Smart Strike from a Deputy Minister mare. Other Smart Strike-line horses bred on this pattern include Blueskiesnrainbows (English Channel/Deputy Minister), G3 winner Break Run Out (Smart Strike/French Deputy), G2 winner Tenpins (Smart Strike/Deputy Minister), G3 winner Super Freaky (Smart Strike/Deputy Minister), etc.
V. E. Day’s dam, California Sunset, traces to the Darby Dan family of Golden Trail, responsible for such staying horses as Dynaformer and Sunshine Forever.
Kelley, refreshingly, has a penchant for stamina families and sire lines—he’s standing the 2-mile Melbourne Cup winner Americain, a son of Dynaformer, for example—and his broodmare band has a large collection of A.P. Indy mares, among others. It’s fitting if he can bring Calumet back to past glory by breeding and racing the stamina/classic types that made the farm legendary. English Channel is doing his part to help that endeavor.