05/28/2013 3:17PM

Belmont Park: Met Mile winner Sahara Sky found in unlikely spot

Tom Keyser
Next-out plans for Sahara Sky, winner of the Metropolitan Handicap, are uncertain, though the Breeders’ Cup Sprint seems likely a year-end goal.

Kim Lloyd, part-owner of Sahara Sky, was headed to Broadway Tuesday night, one day after the thrilling nose victory by his horse over Cross Traffic in Monday’s Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.

Naturally, the show he was going to see was called “Lucky Guy.”
Lloyd, as well as his co-owner and Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer felt quite fortunate after Sahara Sky got his nose down on the wire in the final jump to beat the remarkably game Cross Traffic in the 120th Met Mile.

“It was a great thrill, some race,” Lloyd said Tuesday afternoon. “First time I came to Belmont Park was 1976 and I watched Forego beat Master Derby. It’s been my favorite race ever since then.”

Forego beat Master Derby by a head that afternoon. This finish was even closer as Sahara Sky, under Joel Rosario, rallied down the center of the track to nail the pacesetting Cross Traffic, who had put away two other horses, in the last jump. The final time for the mile was 1:34.17. Both horses earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 109.

Lloyd is fortunate to be involved in Sahara Sky in the first place. As the general manager of Barretts Sales and Racing, Lloyd was in Louisiana in December 2010 on a recruiting mission for his company’s 2-year-old in training sale the following March.
Trainer Jeff Hebert showed him Sahara Sky, a son of Pleasant Tap who had won his debut for maiden $20,000 claiming at Delta Downs at the end of November.

“When he walked out of the barn I just loved the horse,” Lloyd said. “I don’t buy horses privately. I really work for the auction company. It was just one of those lucky circumstances.”

Lloyd said while Hollendorfer was always going to train Sahara Sky, he had somebody else who was going to buy the horse. But that person backed out at the last minute and “Jerry stepped in,” Lloyd said.

Hollendorfer flew back to Southern California on Tuesday, and Sahara Sky was scheduled to travel back on Thursday. Lloyd said he didn’t know of any plans Hollendorfer had for Sahara Sky, though the Breeders’ Cup Sprint is likely a year-end goal, with the horse having 4 wins and 2 seconds from 6 starts at Santa Anita, site of this year’s Breeders Cup.

“He loves to run fresh,” said Lloyd, who credited Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward for his work with the horse. “I’m just along for the ride. Jerry calls the shots, and I get to enjoy the benefit of that.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Cross Traffic came out of the race in good order and would likely be stretched out in distance during the summer.

“The one thing we saw in the Westchester and the Met was he galloped out very well past the wire,” Pletcher said. “Despite running pretty fast he still had his legs underneath him. He looks like a horse that wants more ground.”

While Pletcher didn’t rule out the Suburban on July 6 he seemed more inclined to wait for the Grade 1 Whitney on Aug. 3.

j More than 1 year ago
flat out caught in traffic or he likely gets into that photo too, based on his beating cross traffic by a head previous race they met, saw sahara sky disappoint at aqueduct april 6th wood memorial day, hollendorfer said rosario had him too far back and good riders usually give a better ride the second time on a horse, all true, but if flat out doesn't get stopped during his rally he figures in the finish, and that was what marked the race as disappointing, not to see flat out get a clean trip, casting a shadow over the result.
Kristi Anglen More than 1 year ago
so every time a horse doesn't get a clean trip there is a shadow cast over the result? Oh PLEASE! I won $$ on Flat Out his first meeting with Cross Traffic, but he's got some age on him and could be he's losing a step to the youngsters too...maybe if he got a clean trip he's up there- and maybe he's not...Don't take away from the winner just because your fave didn't get the job done on that particular day.
Dave More than 1 year ago
The Met Mile is always a hell of a race. Last year Shackleford and Caleb's Posse. What a run by Cross Traffic though. Joyful Victory and Kauai Katie both backed up in the 1 post and he just never stopped. Have to worry about Cross Traffic physically though and how he'll hold up. He never raced at 2 or 3 for a reason.
Frank Kulcsar More than 1 year ago
o nly horse to get 107+ top of stretch Wins
dazz More than 1 year ago
A $ 77.00 exacta on the 2 best horses, what a gift!
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
Lawrence Vaccarelli More than 1 year ago
no one believes your spam garbage ..so stop it already you moron..you too cheryal...your probably a hooker.
Eric Singer More than 1 year ago
Monday was Sahara Sky's day and if Cross Traffic can stretch out further and keep progressing he has the potential to be a Star.
Two400 More than 1 year ago
Does no one consider that a horse runs better on dirt than synthetic? Sahara Sky's good form and high speed figures on dirt were always clouded by his synthetic failures. There are 3 surfaces: turf, dirt, and synthetic. Sahara Sky is only of Grade 1 caliber on dirt.
Paul Perata More than 1 year ago
So whats your point??
Two400 More than 1 year ago
The point is, all this talk about him maturing into a better racehorse is overrated. Yes, getting older might have helped. Those high speed figures were already there though in his few dirt races. Try Sahara Sky on Del Mar's polytrack and let's see if he can make the same run.
jttf More than 1 year ago
this is very disappointing. thank you for all of the replies. but, sahara sky comes from the pleasant tap line. these horses usually blossom at the age of 5. pleasant tap himself had his best year at 5. the famous sons out of pleasant tap and pleasant colony also had their best years at 5. these include behrens, denon, premium tap, pleasantly perfect. even one of pleasantly perfect's sons had a 20 win streak at the age of 5. his name, rapid redux. they usually get better at longer races, the older they get. did any of these famous horses use lasix at the age of two ? which means they could grow to their full potential. when did i ever say hollendorfer did anything wrong ? shame shame shame. did you realize that hollendorfer and he buddies bought this horse outright after his winning debut in a maiden claiming race ? he did this same manuever with what famous filly ?
mikey More than 1 year ago
the type of thoroughbred this industry desperately needs.....
DRFHersh More than 1 year ago
I assume you refer to Blind Luck.
jttf More than 1 year ago
yes, mr hersh
jttf More than 1 year ago
keep an eye out for nonios, who got injured early in the year. he is out of pleasantly perfect and may come back later in the year.
Brian Russell More than 1 year ago
There are no sons (or daughters) "out" of Pleasant Tap or Pleasant Colony.
Gary Camejo More than 1 year ago
Man this guy/girl is a sore loser, come on the race unfolded for SS and great tactical well timed ride, give the credit where it is due......congrats the SS crew!
jttf More than 1 year ago
sahara sky raced only once at the age of two. raced quite a few times at the ages of 3 and 4. he never won a race that was better than an optional claimer at 3 and 4. then he takes 7 months off. all of the sudden after a 7 month layoff, he is entered into a grade 2 stakes race and wins. why would he be entered into a race with much better competition after a layoff ? what happened during these 7 magical months ?
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
He was in Jerry Hollendorfer"s barn. And even someone with all the wild conspiracies, like you have posted here has to respect a true horseman and a Hall of Famer like Mr. Hollendorfer. If you can't do that you really need to find another pastime.
Kristopher Marshall More than 1 year ago
What we refer to as an optional claimer used to be called an allowance race before claimers, most of which had already cleared the condition, could enter. This makes these races more difficult; it also gives them a name, optional claimer, that can be used by fools to denigrate these races. Sahara Sky had essentially cleared his conditions. I was either stakes or back in as a claimer. If you paid attention you would know that the difference between high level claimers and stakes horses can be razor thin in sprints.
Two400 More than 1 year ago
Cross a line through all of Sahara Sky's synthetic and turf races and you will see every sign that he always belonged in graded dirt stakes races.
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
Well put and in some cases the 62,500 and 80,000 optional claiming races can be as tough as a grade 3 event.
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
Jttf: The same happend to Sahara Sky in those 7 months, what had happend to Animal Kingdom in those 8 months after which he ran almost as good as America's best horse of last year. Not to mention AK came back after an injury and only one race before which he had another long layoff. To cut it short, its called A Hall of Fame Training Job and an excellent race horse.
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
Think twice before criticizing someone like Jerry Hollendorfer. Folks don't just get inducted into Hall of Fame for nothing. Posting crap on blogs about these world calss horsemen can surely earn you a spot in the Hall of Shame
Bob More than 1 year ago
How about as simple as weaker competition. Cross Traffic Ran a fabulous race but was unheard of 2 months ago and Flat out was due to lose. Discreet Dancer couldn't keep up Fed Biz should have stayed home Swagger Jack is Ok. It's that simple
Christopher More than 1 year ago
Cross Traffic is a monster.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Cross Traffic is the same milers we have been breeding that cannot go beyond that distance.....nothing special.....another sprinter.....
Bob More than 1 year ago
Monsters win. He lost 2 straight now is the bottom line. If he is a monster show me the winner. ....
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
I don't know what you were watching, but it obviously wasn't the race. Cross Traffic was back in front after the wire and still galloped out well after 22 and 44 splits. I had Sahara Sky, but I'm thankful for the win and lucky. Cross Traffic is a beast! The only reason Sahara Sky won is Joel had him way out in the middle of the track where Cross Traffic couldn't see him till late.
Ronald Dodgen More than 1 year ago
There are a million things that could of happened plus Hollendorfer is top notch.
John Smith More than 1 year ago
3 words: He Got Good!
Brian Cahill More than 1 year ago
Waaa I lost money on the Met Mile.