03/23/2013 7:11PM

Santa Anita: Sky Kingdom takes to marathon distance in Tokyo City Cup

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Benoit & Associates
Sky Kingdom draws clear under Martin Garcia in the 1 1/2-mile Tokyo City Cup.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Sky Kingdom had never run beyond 1 1/16 miles before Saturday’s $100,750 Tokyo City Cup over 1 1/2 miles on the main track at Santa Anita.

Such marathons races will definitely figure in future plans for Sky Kingdom.

Racing near the lead throughout, Sky Kingdom took the lead after a mile and pulled clear of seven rivals in the final furlong to win the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup by 3 3/4 lengths for his first career stakes win.

The victory was the 10th stakes win of the winter-spring meeting for trainer Bob Baffert and the fourth for jockey Martin Garcia.

“It’s exciting when you don’t know how they’ll do,” Baffert said. “I was taking a shot at the race.”

Sky Kingdom ($12.20) was timed in 2:30.56, finishing well clear of runner-up Oilisblackgold. Richard’s Kid, who won the Grade 1 Pacific Classic in 2009 and 2010 and was sixth in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 2, finished third.

Calidoscopio, a 10-year-old Argentine-bred who won the Breeders’ Cup Marathon last November in his American debut, could only finish fifth as the 5-2 favorite. Dhaamer, second in the 2012 Tokyo City Cup, finished sixth in the field of eight.

Garcia had Sky Kingdom in second-place for the first mile, chasing the 25-1 outsider Batti Man, who set an early pace of 24.81 and 48.94 seconds.

“He relaxed early and when I asked him, he took off,” Garcia said. “I wanted to let someone go and get to the outside. It was a pretty good pace for a mile and a half.”

Sky Kingdom, a 4-year-old colt by Empire Maker, earned $60,000, and has won 4 of  9 starts and $233,730. Owned by Westrock Stables, Sky Kingdom was fourth in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity in 2011 and fifth in the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes in 2012 in his only other stakes appearances.