03/23/2013 7:11PM

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

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.

Jordan More than 1 year ago
Honestly, I'm surprised Sky Kingdom was allowed to go off as high odds as he did. Sky Kingdom has always hinted at being talented, as evidenced by that CashCall 4th. He had two solid preps under his belt, is at the age where he's just coming into himself and has fresh legs(compared to others in the field), is bred to run all day, and has tactical speed. That last quality, tactical speed, was huge in this race because with Oilisblackgold being taken back today, there was only Batti Man for Sky Kingdom to deal with; and Sky Kingdom was able to get the perfect trip stalking that runner on the outside. With that position, Garcia took advantage of very easy 3rd and 4th quarters(after a decent opening half) to save something for the stretch. The 6 furlong split was about 2 seconds slower than the corresponding split from the BC Marathon, even though that race was a full quarter mile longer. The race shape really worked against Richard's Kid and Calidoscopio, but I would have liked to see them outfinish Oilisblackgold. When that runner made his move on the turn to threaten the winner, he left Richard and Scopio a quick 5 lengths behind. For Richard's Kid, at least he showed some life to get up 3rd. But he just has no speed anymore(and Baffert had gotten him to show some speed when he first came back from Dubai), and his late run is a lot less explosive and flatter. If I owned Richard I wouldn't throw in the towel yet. It's clear since the racing turned to dirt at Santa Anita in the Fall and Winter that Richard is much less effective on it compared to synth. However, even on synth, I don't think Richard has enough pop to win major 10 furlong races anymore. The best chance to make some money with him is to hope the Prove It stakes(11 furlongs on Cushion Track) fills, try to get a minor placing in the Hollywood Gold Cup(or maybe just skip it depending on from), and then target the Cougar. If he runs well in the Cougar, try to get a 4th placing in the Pacific Classic and call it a career. Scopio just might need the full 14 furlongs to win graded stakes in the US. He definitely needs more pace to run at. The race flow certainly did him no favors. But that's the danger as a one dimensional runner.
Alex Martinez More than 1 year ago
Very well said Jordan! I was a little surprised on Sky Kingdom's odds too. I agree about the flashing of talent, but he was also bred top to bottom to cover this distance. His sire won the Belmont Stakes and his dam's sire has bred many long distance runners, including Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid. Add the fact that it's a Baffert horse (meaning he'd be fit to run), where else could you really go for value? Richard's Kid to me is a horse that just seemed to click with Baffert and Baffert only. He obviously knew the tricks to him because he has done nothing with other trainers. Time for him to hit the breeding shed and there is nothing wrong with that, has a great resume and impressive bloodlines. If I had any mares I'd be looking to book them to him.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
I agree that for some reason, Baffert and only Baffert has been able to get Richard's Kid to produce top efforts. Maybe it's like Rail Trip with Ron Ellis. And I sure wish some breeders take an interest in Richard's Kid. The fact that he was sold last year but continues to race at age 8 tells me there isn't much of a market for Richard's Kid as a stallion. If that is so, it would really be distressing. I agree totally with you; if I was an owner I would want to breed to Richard's Kid. His accomplishments are stellar; he's a multi-millionaire who won 5 graded stakes including 3 grade 1s, and placed in 7 other graded stakes among them 5 grade 1s. 2 of the grade 1 wins came at 10 furlongs, and he won the Cougar II at 12. He carries that great classic Maryland blood from his broodmare sire Broad Brush; this Maryland line is pure hickory, producing sound and durable runners comfortable at longer distances. Many owners and breeders recognize that the emphasis on speed the last half century has created a more fragile breed. Yet, they continue to line up for their chance to breed to runners who made just a handful of starts. It's time for someone to buck up and make a principled stand to infuse more stamina back into the breed, and Richard's Kid would be an inexpensive choice.
James Pugliese More than 1 year ago
That was just awesome, I loved Oilisblackgold out of his last race, but i did not expect him to go 12 flgs.When they turned for home it was no surprise he was really into the race, I thought ok lets see if he can handle this distance,but it was SkyKingdom who was truly the acid test winner!Its funny that i just accidentally typed Animal Kingdom earlier instead of Sky Kingdom.He has just becomeAK status horse of the marathon circuit!
John More than 1 year ago
When is Baffert going to realize, Jacito doesnt like a distance. Shorten him up, down the hill or on the dirt, I bet he wakes up !
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Horse about dwelt today- He's trying to tell them more than just that.
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
Baffert-basher John, please wake up: Jaycito is no longer trained by Bob. So what do you have to say now?
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
Jaycito has had many problems.... it is now time to find his level and where he belongs ......... forget the illusions of grandeur ...... or just retire him
Union_Rags More than 1 year ago
Bob, Aaron is pouring Westrock,Sunday morning. Enjoy.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
What in hell have they done to Scopio? Better get him back into that clean, rare air in the Andes and ship him to run. He no-likey smog, that's for sure. Winner ran big...
Alex Martinez More than 1 year ago
This horse is bred from top to bottom to cover this distance. I've got to imagine the Brooklyn Handicap and Greenwood Cup are likely goals from this point forward.