06/26/2014 3:09PM

Sahara Sky looks to atone in Triple Bend Stakes

Tom Keyser
Sahara Sky most recently was seventh in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on May 2.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Six weeks had passed after Sahara Sky’s disappointing seventh-place finish in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on May 2 before jockey Joel Rosario and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer met face-to-face to discuss the result.

“He told me that the track was a bit hard for this horse,” Hollendorfer recalled Thursday.

The loss at Churchill Downs was the worst performance for Sahara Sky since a seventh in the El Cajon Stakes at Santa Anita in January 2011. The setback can be forgotten if Sahara Sky rebounds in Saturday’s $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes over seven furlongs at Santa Anita.

The Grade 1 Triple Bend is the top race for sprinters at the Santa Anita spring-summer meeting.

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Sahara Sky, owned by Hollendorfer and Kim Lloyd, can win the fifth stakes of his career and his first since an electrifying rally carried him from ninth to first in the stretch of the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes over seven furlongs here March 8.

Following that race, Sahara Sky was a fast-closing second to Dads Caps in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap over seven furlongs at Aqueduct on April 5.

Hollendorfer said the break between the Churchill Downs Stakes and the Triple Bend should work in favor of Sahara Sky.
“The horse has a history of running well fresh,” Hollendorfer said. “We hope that he does again.”

Hollendorfer said Sahara Sky’s six-furlong workout in 1:15.60 on June 21 was better than the time indicates because of the way the 6-year-old finished.

“His last work was very encouraging,” Hollendorfer said. “It wasn’t fast for a Southern California horse. We felt it was a good work. He finished up very well, and that’s what I like to see.”

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Sahara Sky is part of a field of seven in the Triple Bend and one of two stakes winners this year in the field. Joe Talamo, who has won aboard Sahara Sky three times, has the mount.

The other stakes winner is Cyclometer, who won the Midnight Lute Stakes in January and the Grade 3 Los Angeles Stakes over six furlongs against two rivals May 26.

Cyclometer is winless in three starts over seven furlongs, the most recent being a ninth in the San Carlos Stakes, in which he broke slowly, led, and tailed off in the final furlong.

“I’m throwing that out,” said Karen Headley, assistant to her father, trainer Bruce Headley. “He just kind of faded.”

Cyclometer can lead or stalk the pace, tactics that should help jockey Edwin Maldonado if runners such as Declassify, who is making his stakes debut, or Wine Police, second in the Los Angeles Stakes, set a quick pace.

Wine Police, eighth in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, is winless in five starts since the Remington Park Sprint Championship last September.

Declassify is one of two runners in the field trained by Bob Baffert, along with Drill, the winner of the Grade 1
Del Mar Futurity in 2011. Declassify, 4, was second in an optional claimer May 16, his first start since October. Drill has not raced since February and is winless in 13 starts since the Grade 3 Laz Barrera Stakes at Hollywood Park in May 2012.