07/06/2007 11:00PM

English Channel repeats in U.N.


OCEANPORT, N.J. - English Channel continued his love affair with Monmouth Park on Saturday, winning the $750,000 United Nations Stakes for a second straight year with another course-record performance.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 5-year-old English Channel ran the 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:12.89, lowering the mark of 2:13.24 he set in last year's renewal. English Channel paid $3.20 to win as the heavy favorite of the crowd of 12,278.

Pletcher held all the cards in the United Nations, the only Grade 1 turf race in New Jersey, as the mare Honey Ryder got second, giving the trainer a one-two finish.

Better Talk Now, the 2005 United Nations winner, rallied for third, followed by Fri Guy and Embossed.

English Channel's two powerful runs over the course bode well for October when Monmouth hosts the Breeders' Cup.

"His two wins have been there in the summer over a firm turf course," Pletcher said by phone. "You never know what kind of course you'll get in the fall, but we'd love to see him show up there and have a good-to-firm turf course."

English Channel was third in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs.

Fri Guy, the last horse in the entry box on Thursday, was first to the front. English Channel was rank at the break, repeatedly tossing his head.

"On the first jump, I went to grab him so I didn't bother the horse alongside me, and he threw his head up," said John Velazquez, who rode English Channel. "He was in an uncomfortable position as I was trying to follow [Fri Guy]. He was throwing his head up and he wasn't looking at the horse in front of him. Once he saw him, he was still a little headstrong, but he was back in my hands."

English Channel tracked Fri Guy to the top of the stretch before taking charge and holding off the late-running Honey Ryder by one length.

"This filly just keeps coming," said Garrett Gomez, who rode Honey Ryder. "English Channel got the jump on me at the top of the stretch and that's where he beat me."

* Pommes Frites ($2.60) defeated Beat the Band by 1 1/4 lengths in the $60,000 Lighthouse Stakes for fillies and mares on the turf.

* Herecomeshollywood ($8.80) came back on two days' rest to shade 4-5 favorite Suave Jazz by a head in the $65,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes for sprinters.