Fans of English Affair might have had unpleasant flashbacks turning for home in Thursday’s $100,000 Cardinal H. (G3) at Churchill Downs. Unlucky when pinned on the inside in the Dowager (G3) at Keeneland last out, the Calumet Farm homebred was on hold awaiting room on Thanksgiving Day. But new rider Corey Lanerie angled her off the hedge, the seam opened up, and English Affair drove through to earn her first stakes victory.
Trained by Rusty Arnold, English Affair fits the late-maturing profile of sire English Channel’s progeny. She was unraced at two, ended her sophomore season with an entry-level allowance score over the Matt Winn turf course, and earned her way in stakes this term.
After a rallying second to the speedy I’m Betty G in the August 5 Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Turf at Ellis Park, English Affair was a non-threatening eighth in the One Dreamer at Kentucky Downs, but resumed her progress in the Dowager. She was staying on well in the stretch of the 1 1/2-mile feature, only to get tightened up, steadied, and shuffled back to third. The first-past-the-post, Beach Flower, was disqualified for interference, runner-up Vexatious inherited the win, and English Affair had to settle for being promoted to second.
The 3-1 second choice back down in trip for the 1 1/8-mile Cardinal, English Affair was patiently handled early as Unbridled Escape carved out splits of :24.79, :50.62, and 1:16.91 on the yielding course. The pacesetter succumbed in upper stretch, when 3-2 favorite I Remember Mama and La Manta Gris launched their bids, and Amboseli soon rolled up on the outside.
English Affair played her hand last of all for Lanerie, who was in the midst of a four-win day. Spearing between I Remember Mama and La Manta Gris, she outfinished Amboseli by a half-length in a final time of 1:54.26. I Remember Mama held third, while La Manta Gris weakened to fourth.
The four-year-old English Affair is the third stakes winner, and fifth stakes performer, produced by the Grade 1-placed multiple stakes scorer Lady Melesi. The Colonial Affair mare, who hails from the family of Hall of Famer Easy Goer, is also responsible for multiple Grade 2-placed stakes victor Seruni, stakes-winning sire Roman Emperor, and Grade 2-placed pair of Doc Cheney and Liberated.
English Affair’s resume now reads 12-3-5-1, $197,643.
Quotes from Churchill Downs
Winning rider Corey Lanerie on English Affair: “She handled things perfectly today. I was just the passenger. We had a great trip the entire way around the track and when I asked for her best stuff, she dug in and finished really well. I took her back early to settle and waited for a spot to open.”
Winning trainer Rusty Arnold: “She’s a typical English Channel that is getting better with age. We’ve run her going a couple of different distances and it just shows her versatility. Today’s race came up and it was the perfect spot to run her in.”
Jockey Florent Geroux on runner-up Amboseli: “We had a really good trip. My horse tried really hard down the stretch but just couldn’t quite get to the winner.”