05/28/2013 4:40PM

DRF Breeding Weekend Wrap: Sahara Sky enriches late sire’s legacy in Met Mile

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Tom Keyser
Sahara Sky represented late sire Pleasant Tap with a victory in the Metropolitan Handicap.

Memorial Day weekend brought a busy slate of graded stakes activity across the U.S., but the racing spotlight was focused squarely on Belmont Park's holiday card and its trio of Grade 1 events. Monday’s Metropolitan Handicap, traditionally a touchstone race for breeders, assembled several of the handicap division’s top performers and, as it turned out, produced one of the year’s most exciting finishes.

Sahara Sky’s nose win in the Met Mile gave the 5-year-old horse his first top-level victory. Under unbelievably hot jockey Joel Rosario, Sahara Sky rallied five-wide in the stretch to just edge the game pacesetter Cross Traffic. He covered the one-turn mile in 1:34.17 and along with Cross Traffic earned a 109 Beyer Speed Figure.

Bred in Florida by Martin Stables, Sahara Sky won two Grade 2 stakes at Santa Anita earlier this year before finishing second in last month’s Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct. He becomes the eighth Grade 1 winner for the late Pleasant Tap, who received the Eclipse Award as champion older male in 1992 and earned over $2.7 million on the racetrack before retiring to a productive career at stud. His best runners include multiple Grade/Group 1 winners Premium Tap, David Junior, and Tiago.

Pleasant Tap died in 2010 due to complications from laminitis.

Sahara Sky is out of the Grade 3-winning Storm Cat mare Seeking the Sky, and is a half-brother to stakes winner Animal Style. His second dam is Grade 2 winner Seeking Regina, who produced Grade 1 placed Seeking It All and Grade 2-placed Seeking the Money in addition to Seeking the Sky.

Earlier on Belmont’s card, Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman’s Midnight Lucky bounced back from an unplaced start in the Kentucky Oaks by dominating six 3-year-old fillies in the Grade 1 Acorn. The daughter of promising young Hill ‘n’ Dale stallion Midnight Lute covered one mile in 1:35.11, good for a 99 Beyer.

Midnight Lute, 2007’s champion sprinter, has made regular appearances in the racing press this spring as several from his first crop have developed into stakes-winning 3-year-olds. Most prominent among these are San Vicente winner Shakin It Up, Sunland Derby winner Govenor Charlie, and multiple graded stakes-placed Mylute, who most recently finished third in the Preakness.

Pegram purchased Midnight Lucky for $220,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale. She is out of the Citidancer mare Citiview and is a half-sister to stakes-placed Songofthecity. Midnight Lucky’s second dam, stakes winner Prospective Joy, produced Grade 1 winner Hookedonthefeelin, who raced for Pegram. She in turn produced Grade 1 winner and Pegram homebred Pussycat Doll, Grade 1 winner Jimmy Creed, stakes winner Funny Feeling, and stakes-placed Blowing Kisses.

The other Grade 1 on Monday’s Memorial Day Belmont card, the 1 1 /16-mile Ogden Phipps for fillies and mares ages 3 and up, was won by Tiz Miz Sue, who improved off of a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn by outfinishing Authenticity in the stretch. The 6-year-old daughter of Tiznow picked up her first Grade 1 win in a final time of 1:40.81 and earned a 103 Beyer. Her pedigree will be examined in more detail Thursday, when two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow, who stands at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky., is profiled this week as DRF Breeding’s Hot Sire. 

Weekend notes: Glen Hill Farm’s Marketing Mix reaffirmed her position as one of the best turf females in training with a thrilling win in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Hollywood Park on Monday. With recent Preakness-winning jockey Gary Stevens aboard in his return to Southern California, the Ontario-bred 5-year-old daughter of Darley stallion Medaglia d’Oro outfinished Tiz Flirtatious by a head after a spirited stretch battle. She covered 1 1/8 miles on Hollywood’s turf course in 1:47.24 and notched a 97 Beyer Speed Figure.

Marketing Mix impressed in her first start since finishing second to Zagora in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf last fall. A $150,000 purchase by Glen Hill Farm at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale, she is out of the Kris S mare Instant Thought and is from the family of Grade 1 winner Contredance, Grade 2 winner Skimble, and Grade 3 winner Shotice.

The top Beyer of the weekend was earned earlier on Monday’s Hollywood card by Comma to the Top, who rolled to a 1 1/4-length win in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap. The 5-year-old Bwana Charlie gelding sprinted six furlongs in 1:09.11, earning a speed figure of 111. 

Florida-bred Comma to the Top has earned nearly $1.3 million over four consistent seasons of racing, with nine stakes wins. He is out of the Stormy Atlantic mare Maggie’s Storm and is from the family of Grade 3 winners Maggies Pistol and Good Potential along with several other stakes winners.