Updated on 09/18/2011 12:27AM

English Channel relentless

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
English Channel, under John Velazquez, gets the pace scenario he needs and rallies to a half-length score over Cacique in the U.N. Stakes.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - A different pace scenario made all the difference in the world for English Channel as he won the 53rd running of Grade 1, $750,000 on the turf Saturday at Monmouth Park.

In his previous race, the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park, English Channel ended up pressing the pace in a slowly run race and finished fourth. The U.N. was an entirely different story played out before a crowd of 11,063.

Shake the Bank, defending winner Better Talk Now's designated rabbit, bounded to a clear lead, as expected. English Channel ($6.80), a bit rank in the early stages, settled into a comfortable spot in fourth along the inside under John Velazquez.

Turning for home, Shake the Bank was done and Cacique, the Manhattan winner, got first jump.

But not for long, as English Channel burst into contention with a three-wide sweep. Those two battled through the lane with English Channel resolutely pulling clear in the final yards.

English Channel won by a half-length over Cacique with Relaxed Gesture, the 9-5 favorite, third, another 1 3/4 lengths back.

"The difference today between this race and the last race in New York was that he got to settle behind horses," Velazquez said. "He got to drop his head and really relax. He saved energy for the end, so when I asked him to kick in, he was there."

The U.N. was another quality effort for Cacique, who has run in four Grade 1 races since joining Bobby Frankel's barn after starting his career in Europe. "He ran a huge race," said Cacique's rider, Edgar Prado. "He's been knocking heads with the winner all season long, and he just got the best of us today."

English Channel, whose other Grade 1 victory came in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 6, ran the 1 3/8 miles on a good course in 2:13.24.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said English Channel will now be pointed for either the Arlington Million or the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, both on Aug. 12.

Silverfoot was fourth, followed by Better Talk Now, Shake the Bank, and Ramazutti.

It was a disappointing effort from Better Talk Now, who was trying to become the first horse since Sandpit (1995-96) to win the U.N. in consecutive years. The 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf winner, Better Talk Now tipped wide for the drive but lacked a late response.

This was the first U.N. over Monmouth's newly installed grass course. The race originated at Atlantic City Race Course and came to Monmouth in 1999.

* High Blitz ($5.80) won a second straight Monmouth stakes with a two-length victory over Wild Jam in the $65,000 Mr Prospector Stakes. High Blitz, the winner of the Wolf Hill Stakes on May 29, ran six furlongs in 1:09.14 with Chuck Lopez aboard for trainer Justin Nixon.