02/23/2013 10:19PM

Santa Anita: Late bloomer Sahara Sky captures San Carlos

Benoit & Associates
Sahara Sky, ridden by Joe Talamo, earns his second straight graded stakes win in the San Carlos.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Sahara Sky is making a fan of Hall of Fame Jerry Hollendorfer this year.

The 5-year-old Sahara Sky had a slow start to his career, winning 2 of his first 7 starts in California, and leaving Hollendorfer to question the long-term prospects. His point of view has changed rapidly this year.

Sahara Sky won his second consecutive graded stakes in Saturday’s $200,750 San Carlos Stakes over seven furlongs at Santa Anita.

 “You can’t expect for them to be graded stakes winners all the time,” Hollendorfer said. “He sure is a nice horse.”

Ridden by Joe Talamo, Sahara Sky ($14.60) closed from sixth in a field of eight to win the Grade 2 San Carlos by three-quarters of a length over Capital Account.

Comma to the Top, who disputed the early pace, stayed on to finish third, followed by Drill, Justin Phillip, Midnight Transfer, The Lumber Guy, and Canonize. The Lumber Guy, second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November, was the 9-5 favorite.

Sahara Sky was timed in 1:21.28. Comma to the Top and Justin Phillip fought through a quick early pace of 22.11 and 43.88 seconds. With three furlongs remaining, Sahara Sky trailed the leaders by five lengths.

“I think Joe wanted to be a little closer,” Hollendorfer said. “He got a good trip. It was all about a perfect ride.”

The San Carlos win leaves Sahara Sky as California’s most accomplished sprinter this year. Sahara Sky won the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Stakes over six furlongs on Jan. 19, his first stakes win and first start since last June.

Co-owned by Hollendorfer and Kim Lloyd, general manager of Fairplex Park Racing, Sahara Sky earned $120,000 in the San Carlos. A 5-year-old horse by Pleasant Tap, Sahara Sky has won 6 of 14 starts and $356,680.

The Grade 2 Potrero Grande Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs on April 6 is Hollendorfer’s next target for Sahara Sky. The Potrero Grande field may include Amazombie, the champion sprinter of 2011.


Jordan More than 1 year ago
Sahara Sky had run very well at last year's Santa Anita winter meet, but even a fan of the horse like myself was surprised to see him win his stakes debut off a layoff in the Palos Verdes. Sahara Sky has simply come back as a 5 year old a few lengths faster, and he has always been a consistent and hard trying horse. He migth not be an Eclipse type, yet, but he's a solid graded stakes horse and there still might be room for improvement. There are some similaritiesbetween his rise and Amazombie's rise in 2011. Comma to the Top deserved a better fate than getting nailed on the line for 2nd. He ran huge battling with Justin Phillip through a 43 and change half(over a track not playing particularly fast), before shaking that rival off. Why Justin Phillip was up head and head with Comma is beyond me. Since Comma was a graded stakes winner around 2 turns and ran 2nd in the Santa Anita Derby, I hadn't been sold on him as a graded stakes sprinter. I am now. That's two races in a row Comma has run a first half in 43 and 4 or faster. If he can keep doing that and maybe get a little easier of a set up, he has the heart and professionalism to be a major factor in the sprint division. Captical Account got a dream trip and fortunate bob to steal 2nd. He's a good horse, but he has simply lost all the early speed he once had. Flores was scrubbing on him after the first quarter. If Baffert can't get him to show more early lick, he won't beat a horse like Sahara Sky or an Amazombie.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
That race was a eerie meanie Minnie mo race another perfect setup for Sahara sky
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
The race of the day imo. Very competitive field where all horses had recorded triple digit Beyers before. And a nice payout by Sahara Sky.
rdeeps52 More than 1 year ago
Looks like back home to NY and Hushion for The Lumber Guy. That move never made any sense anyway