Three Diamonds Farm's Cross Border had been away from the winner's circle for a year but found himself back there July 31 with a repeat victory in the $250,000 Bowling Green Stakes (G2T) at Saratoga Race Course.
The now 7-year-old English Channel ridgling collected his first graded win in the 1 3/8-mile inner turf test on Aug. 1, 2020, and though he did not find the winner's circle again in his next eight starts, he placed in six of those races, including the 2020 Sword Dancer Stakes (G1T) and Jan. 23 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes (G1T).
"He's a model of consistency and durability," said trainer Mike Maker. "Hopefully, we have another couple of years with him."
Sent off as the 6-1 fifth choice in the field of eight Saturday, Cross Border left no question as to who the winner was as he sailed across the finish line 1 1/4 lengths in front. He was ridden by Luis Saez, who one race earlier guided Essential Quality to victory in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2).
Saez settled Cross Border in third on the inside as Channel Cat set the pace and reigning champion turf male Channel Maker followed in second. Fractions went in :24.75, :49.37, 1:14.52, and 1:38.71 through the first mile on the course labeled good after multiple days of heavy rain.
Cross Border came under urging from Saez entering the final turn, then rallied four-wide into the stretch before taking over the leaders. He got his head in front down the stretch to run 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.43 but had to repel challenges from Rockemperor and Shamrocket, who rallied from fifth and sixth, respectively.
The dark bay or brown turned back those late-running rivals to complete the distance in 2:16.36. He returned $14.40 on a $2 win ticket while pushing his career earnings to $948,821. His record stands at 10-8-4 in 35 starts.
"He loves it here. This is a special horse that I love riding. He always tries hard," Saez said. "Today, he ran huge. It set up perfect with a good pace. When we came to the top of the stretch, he really gave me that kick and he battled. He always wants to give me everything. It all went according to plan."
Rockemperor finished second a length ahead of third-placed Shamrocket, who got his head in front of Channel Cat. Red Knight, Moon Over Miami, Channel Maker, and Breakpoint completed the order of finish.
Cross Border was bred in New York by Berkshire Stud and B. D. Gibbs and is one of three foals, all winners, out of the Empire Maker mare Empress Josephine. He passed through the auction ring three times, most recently selling to Three Diamonds Farm for $100,000 out of Taylor Made Sales Agency's consignment to the 2018 Fasig-Tipton July Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale.
Next up, Cross Border could take another go at the Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer, a Breeders' Cup Challenge race offering the winner a berth in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T) Nov. 6 at Del Mar, on Aug. 28 at the Spa.
"I'd assume the Sword Dancer is next," Maker said.