ARCADIA , Calif. (Feb. 23, 2013)—With a blistering early pace to take advantage of, Sahara Sky, with Joe Talamo up, came roaring from far off the pace to take Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Carlos Stakes by three quarters of a length, covering seven furlongs in 1:21.28.
As Comma to the Top and Justin Phillip ding-donged through fractions of 22.11, 43.88 and 1:08.09, Talamo was content to lag far back early in the field of eight.
“They had a real hot pace,” said Talamo. “It really set up good for us today. I’ll tell you what, this horse is one of those that only gets better with age…He runs well fresh. It was going so fast up there and they stopped pretty good for us, but my horse was really running the last part.”
As Comma to the Top and Edwin Maldonado opened up a length on Justin Phillip and Mike Smith at the top of the lane, Sahara Sky, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, was in high gear four-wide and at the sixteenth pole, there was little doubt he would prevail.
Fresh off victory at 21-1 in the Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes going six furlongs on Jan. 19, Sahara Sky proved that win was no fluke and improved his overall mark to an outstanding 14-6-2-4. With the winner’s share of $120,000, his earnings now stand at $356,680.
“This horse is a different horse this year,” said Kim Lloyd, who races as Sweetwater Stable and owns the 5-year-old in partnership with Hollendorfer. “He’s run well all the time, but he would put so much into his races when he was fresh that he didn’t seem to have that same finish in his subsequent races. He’s matured now though and he’s firing back to back. He might be a pretty good horse.”
Runner-up Capital Account, last past the half mile pole with David Flores, unleashed a big stretch rally and finished a head in front of Comma to the Top. Off at 5-1 Capital Account paid $5.80 and $4.40.
Comma to the Top, who broke from the rail and never got a breather, stayed well but had to settle for third, 2 ¼ lengths in front of Drill and Julien Leparoux. Comma to the Top, off at 6-1, paid $5.00 to show.
Heavy favorite The Lumber Guy, ridden by Garrett Gomez, was dispatched at 9-5 and sat third, five lengths off the pace passing the half mile pole and had no punch through the lane.
“I had a perfect trip,” said Gomez. “He traveled beautifully, but when the running started, the horse never came up underneath me. We’ll have to go back to the drawing board.”
The win in the San Carlos was the first for both Hollendorfer and Talamo.
There is a Pick Six carryover of $101,001 into Sunday at Santa Anita. It is expected Sunday’s total pool will exceed $750,000.
FAVORED UNBRIDLED’S NOTE GAME WINNER OF $75,000 JOE HERNANDEZ, PREVAILS BY NOSE UNDER NAKATANI
Unbridled’s Note returned to Santa Anita’s downhill turf course and was a game winner of Saturday’s $75,000 Joe Hernandez Handicap for older horses under Corey Nakatani, prevailing by a nose over comebacking Chips All In and Tyler Baze while negotiating 6 ½ furlongs in 1:11.17—just seven one hundredths of a second off the course record.
“I felt I had the race,” said Nakatani. “My horse, he’s such a real nice horse, a real game horse. I want to thank Mr. McCarty (owner) for letting me have this opportunity with him…You know, it’s been a tough meet for us but they are very good horses…The turf was a little soft, had a lot of cut to it and he kept switching leads on it.
“He’s better with a little bit of a target but the pace scenario just didn’t pan out like I thought it would. He ran a tremendous race either way.”
After running a brilliant second down the hill in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 3, Unbridled’s Note, trained by Steve Asmussen, was third, beaten three lengths in the opening day Grade I Malibu at seven furlongs on dirt.
“He’s a pretty versatile race horse,” said Asmussen assistant Scott Blasi. “It looks like his numbers are comparable on both dirt and turf. We’ll just see how he comes out of it, and and I’m just glad to win a race, honestly. It feels good to win a race.”
The Asmussen Stable, America ’s leader by races-won in five different years, and the winner of consecutive Eclipse Awards in 2008 and ‘09, had two wins from 23 starts coming into Saturday.
Off as the 4-5 favorite, Unbridled’s Note, who broke from post position three in a seven-horse field, was gunned by Nakatani to the lead and quickly established a one length lead over the runnerup, who pressed Nakatani through splits of 21.44, 44.05 and 1:05.41.
Unbridled’s Note, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Unbridled’s Song, paid $3.60, $2.40 and $2.20. With the winner’s share of $45,840, he increased his earnings to $457,581. His record now stands at 10-4-1-3.
Runner-up Chips All In, idle since running third in the Grade II La Jolla Handicap on Aug. 11, he finished 3 ¾ lengths in front of third-place finisher Tale of a Champion and Joe Talamo.
“This horse ran his heart out,” said Baze. “He gave me everything he had. If he would have had a (recent) race under his belt, he would have won easy. He just is a really hard-trying horse, just a pleasure to ride.”
The third choice in the betting at 6-1, Chips All In paid $4.20 and $3.20.
Tale of a Champion, the longest shot in the field at 25-1, finished a half length in front of 3-1 second choice Irish Art and paid $6.40 to show.
The $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes will headline a nine-race program on Sunday. First post time at Santa Anita is at 12:30 p.m. For more racing information, visit www.santaanita.com.