03/20/2013 1:02PM

Santa Anita: Blueskiesnrainbows, Phantom Lover look hard to separate


ARCADIA, Calif. – John Sadler and Jerry Hollendorfer are in hot pursuit of Bob Baffert in the trainers’s race at Santa Anita, and both Sadler and Hollendorfer will try to gain ground in Friday’s featured second race, where Hollendorfer’s horse Blueskiesnrainbows and the Sadler-trained Phantom Lover will meet for the second time this season.

Blueskiesnrainbows and Phantom Lover were separated by a head, in that order, when finishing right behind Sky Kingdom in a second-level optional $62,500 claiming race going one mile on dirt here Jan. 24. Those are the exact conditions for Friday’s race, with one, significant, exception – the winner of that Jan. 24 race, Baffert-trained Sky Kingdom, has fled that second-level allowance condition, so he’s out of the picture, leaving Blueskiesnrainbows, Phantom Lover, and three others.

Blueskiesnrainbows subsequently came back and finished second in another allowance race Feb. 24. Phantom Lover skipped that race.

“He got a little sick with ulcers,” Sadler said.

But if Phantom Lover runs back to either of his two main-track efforts since returning from a one-year layoff, he figures to give Blueskiesnrainbows a run for his money again.

“He ran well in his first race back, but then he caught soft turf,” Sadler said, referring to a Dec. 14 grass race at Betfair Hollywood Park, “and he never ran a jump. I threw that race out. His last race was terrific.”

Sadler also sends out Majestic Moment, who came from well back to capture a first-level allowance Feb. 22 going 1 1/16 miles in his first race on dirt.

“He kind of fell out of the gate that day, but there was a suicidal pace in front of him,” Sadler said. “We’ve always had high hopes for him, but we’ve had to stop and start on him a number of times.

“He might like a little farther than a mile. But you’re not going to pass this condition and wait for another race at this level going longer, because you don’t know if it will fill next time.”

Canonize, a former stakes winner, is entered for a tag. This class relief should benefit him as he was outrun in a pair of graded sprint stakes earlier this meet. He also loves this track, with 4 wins in 8 starts.

Royal F J is notorious for finishing second (11 times) far more often than he has won (four) during his 40-race career, but he has finished second twice in four starts on Santa Anita’s main track.