01/02/2013 5:06PM

Santa Anita: Sky High Gal following in big footsteps

Benoit & Associates
Sky High Gal and Julien Leparoux (left) hold off Scarlet Strike and Joe Talamo to win the Blue Norther by a nose on Tuesday.

ARCADIA, Calif. - In late 2011, Lady of Shamrock was bought privately by owner Kosta Hronis and sent to trainer John Sadler. In the final days of 2011 and through 2012, Lady of Shamrock won five stakes for 2- and 3-year-old fillies, including two Grade 1 races – the American Oaks and Del Mar Oaks.

Hronis and Sadler are trying to do the same this year with Sky High Gal.

Purchased privately in the autumn, Sky High Gal won her California debut in Tuesday’s Blue Norther Stakes over a mile on turf. Lady of Shamrock won the same race at the end of 2011.

Sky High Gal won by a nose over Scarlet Strike, holding on desperately after leading by 1 1/2 lengths in the stretch.

Sadler said after Tuesday’s race that he is eager to see how much Sky High Gal can improve.

“She’s got a lot of potential,” he said. “She’s going to get a lot better as we get a little further into it.”

Ridden by Julien Leparoux, Sky High Gal was always near the front, closer than expected.

“She got pulling harder than we really wanted,” Sadler said. “Nothing really went right, and she won anyway.”

Sky High Gal is likely to run in the China Doll Stakes later this winter, a race that Lady of Shamrock won last year.

Lady of Shamrock was fifth in the BC Filly and Mare Turf on Nov. 2. She is scheduled to make her 2013 debut in the $150,000 Santa Ana Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf on March 24.

The same race is likely to be the next start for Qaraaba, who won the Grade 2 Robert Frankel Stakes last Sunday.

Trainer Simon Callaghan said that Qaraaba will be lightly raced in coming months with a 2013 season geared toward races such as the Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park in August and possibly the BC Filly and Mare Turf here in November.

“We’re not going to over-race her,” Callaghan said. “We’ll get her to the summer races.”

Owned by Alice Bamford and Michael Tabor, Qaraaba won the Frankel over 1 1/8 miles on turf. Callaghan expects her to thrive at longer distances, too.

“She’s got no distance or ground limitations,” he said. “She’s very good.”

◗ Former jockey Corey Black is representing jockey Aaron Gryder. Black has worked as a jockey’s agent in the past and has been working as an exercise rider in recent years.