Sisterson: 'Thankful For Everyone Behind The Scenes' After Third Grade 1 Win - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Sisterson: ‘Thankful For Everyone Behind The Scenes’ After Third Grade 1 Win

Trainer Jack Sisterson

In a little more than nine months, trainer Jack Sisterson went from searching for his first Grade 1 win to achieving one at all three NYRA-operated tracks, with Calumet Farm homebred Channel Cat's victory by a nose over Gufo in Saturday's $700,000 Man o' War at Belmont Park checking the final box.

Channel Cat earned the highest Beyer Speed Figure in three starts of his 6-year-old campaign with a 98 number for the effort, which added to Sisterson's 2020 wins with Vexatious in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga Race Course and True Timber in the Cigar Mile Handicap in December at Aqueduct Racetrack.

“It's very humbling,” Sisterson said. “I grew up with a dream but every time I dreamed, the alarm clock went off. Fortunately enough, there wasn't an alarm clock that got in the way yesterday. But I can't take any credit for this. I have to thank Channel Cat, and Calumet Farm for all they do. Unfortunately, I can't have all 50 staff members who do all the hard work in the winner's circle. The microphones are on me, but I just represent the staff, because they do all the hard work.

“It's not me winning the Grade 1. It's a big team effort,” he added. “You'd like to win a Grade 1 anywhere, but in New York, I used to read about races like the Man o' War and the Personal Ensign and the Cigar Mile. To be in a position to even compete in them, it's an honor. I'm just thankful for everyone behind the scenes who work to allow our horses to compete at this level.”

Sisterson, who worked under prestigious trainers Doug O'Neill and newly named Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, went out on his own in 2018. He's had success with Channel Cat, who started his career under Pletcher's care, before being transferred to Sisterson late in 2020.

After running fifth in the Grade 3 W.L. McKnight to start his 2021 campaign in January at Gulfstream Park, the son of English Channel ran a competitive second to Say the Word in the Grade 2 Elkhorn going 1 1/2 miles on the Keeneland turf on April 17.

Sisterson worked Channel Cat once on the Keeneland main track before shipping to New York for the Man o' War, where Hall of Famer John Velazquez sent him to the front, setting the pace before the half-mile mark while having enough in reserve to fend off favorite Gufo's late charge to win the head bob in the 1 3/8-mile route.

“We were coming back in three weeks, but we had monitored him coming out of the Elkhorn and breezed him on the dirt and he breezed very well over it,” Sisterson said. “He had put on weight and looked good and we had to go for the Man o' War yesterday because he was doing so well. It was a tough field but we had an advantage with Velazquez riding. We couldn't have asked for a better setup going into the race.”

Channel Cat has primarily used his late-closing ability in recent starts, but Velazquez changed tactics on Saturday, dueling Field Pass at the front before leading the eight-horse field while finishing strong enough to complete the course in 2:13.34 under heavy pressure. Velazquez added another Grade 1 win to his ledger a week after posting the Kentucky Derby-Kentucky Oaks double with Medina Spirit and Malathaat.

“Going from the barn to the paddock, Channel Cat definitely looked energetic leading into the race,” Sisterson said. “There's been a spark in his training. It didn't surprise me that he was forwardly placed. I don't tell jockeys what to do, I can only make mistakes and mess it up for them. All the credit goes to John Velazquez for winning that race yesterday.”

Another quick turnaround could be a possibility with the Grade 1, $750,000 Resorts World Casino Manhattan going 1 1/4 miles on the turf a potential spot for Channel Cat on Belmont Stakes Day June 5. Sisterson said he'll see how Channel Cat comes out of his victory before deciding to enter, leaving open the possibility of targeting the Grade 1 United Nations on Monmouth Park's Haskell Day card July 17.

Channel Cat ran fifth, just 3 3/4 lengths back to winner Bricks and Mortar, in the 2019 Manhattan in a year in which he ran third in the United Nations, won the Grade 2 Bowling Green and finished third in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at the Spa. Overall, Channel Cat is 6-3-5 in 26 career starts and upped his career earnings past the $1 million mark with his Man o' War score [$1,373,522].

“It took us awhile to figure him out,” Sisterson said. “I take the blame for his poor performance in the McKnight. I was breezing the horse too fast in the mornings and he ran a flat race, so I gave him two weeks off and I backed off him and slowed his works right down. I have a great staff and we figured out the way Channel Cat likes to be trained. We usually don't run them back that quick, so I just want to make sure I'm not running him back too quick. We're not going to count out the Manhattan and we'll leave it up to Channel Cat.

“We'll get him back home to Keeneland and turn him out in the paddock,” he added. “If we don't feel the Manhattan is the right spot for him, we might try the United Nations at Monmouth and come and wait for Saratoga for him. We have options; he's won the Bowling Green at Saratoga, so he likes the turf course up there. I don't want to get greedy and be selfish here. We have to put it in Channel Cat's hands now.”

Sisterson also singled out Calumet's farm manager Eddie Kane for praise, with the Kentucky-bred Channel Cat just one of the operation's many success stories.

“The one person I'd like to dedicate Channel Cat's victory yesterday to is Eddie Kane, because if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be in this position,” Sisterson said. “He does everything. To be able to represent Eddie and Calumet with a homebred and win a race like that, I have to give credit.”

Paulick Report Icon

Receive daily headlines, breaking news alerts, promotions, and much more!

Become An Insider

Support our journalism and access bonus content on our Patreon stream

Learn More