05/14/2014 12:52PM

Sahara Sky will not defend Met Mile crown due to ulcers

Benoit & Associates
Sahara Sky, who ran a disappointing seventh in the Churchill Downs Handicap on the Kentucky Derby undercard, will miss the Met Mile at Belmont Park due to ulcers.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Sahara Sky will not win the Met Mile again this year.

A post-race examination following his uncharacteristic seventh-place finish May 3 in a Grade 2 stakes at Churchill Downs revealed Sahara Sky was compromised by stomach ulcers. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and assistant Dan Ward decided to keep him in California.

“He’s never run a bad race until the other day,” Ward said. “I have to think [ulcers] would be his excuse.”

Stomach ulcers typically are treated with GastroGard, and Sahara Sky is not expected to miss significant training time. He will remain in California and target the Grade 1 Triple Bend Stakes, a seven-furlong $300,000 stakes June 28 at Santa Anita.

A year ago, Sahara Sky emerged as one of the top sprinters in the country. He scored Grade 2 victories at Santa Anita in the Palos Verdes Handicap and San Carlos Handicap, finished second in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct, and won the Met Mile by a nose.

The 2014 campaign for Sahara Sky has been less productive. He finished fifth in the Palos Verdes, won the San Carlos, and finished second in the Carter prior to his seventh-place finish in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap. He has won eight races and more than $1.1 million, including four graded stakes.

Sahara Sky could be one of two Hollendorfer trainees in the Triple Bend. Wild Dude, runner-up by a nose April 12 in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Stakes, will run May 26 in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap at six furlongs, followed possibly by the Triple Bend.

The Met Mile might still include a California representative. Bob Baffert said Wednesday that Churchill Downs runner-up Shakin It Up is being considered for the Met Mile, which will be June 7 at Belmont. Shakin It Up won the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 and the Grade 2 Strub Stakes on Jan. 18.