Multiple Grade 1 winner Sahara Sky looks to return to winning form June 28 in the $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita Park, while rival Cyclometer aims to build on his recent success.
A 6-year-old son of Pleasant Tap, Sahara Sky has been extraordinarily good since he won the Palos Verdes Stakes back in January 2013. He's won or placed second in six graded stakes since then including consecutive victories in the San Carlos Stakes and last year's Metropolitan Handicap. In his last start, however, Sahara Sky didn't fire in the Churchill Downs Stakes May 3 and finished seventh as the favorite.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will likely see an improved performance in the Triple Bend considering Sahara Sky has finished off the board only four times in 20 lifetime starts. At Santa Anita, Sahara Sky has five wins and two second-place finishes in eight starts. Hollendorfer also co-owns the Florida-bred horse with Sweetwater Stables. Joe Talamo has the mount.
TRIPLE BEND STAKES
Bruce Headley's Cyclometer is the only Triple Ben contender coming into the race off a stakes victory. The 6-year-old California-bred son of Cyclotron won his first graded stakes May 26 in the Los Angeles Stakes at Santa Anita. Prior to that race he finished third in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Stakes. Headley co-owns Cyclometer with Irwin and Andrew Molasky, who, along with the trainer, bred the horse. Cyclometer will be ridden by Edwin Maldonado, who has been aboard for the horse's last two starts.
Other contenders who have seen success in graded stakes but not for some time include Grade 1 winner Drill and Grade 2 winner Gladding.
A 5-year-old son of Lawyer Ron, Drill's best finish of the year has been a third place in the 1 ⅛-mile San Pasqual Stakes in January. Trained by Bob Baffert, Drill has not raced at the Triple Bend distance of seven furlongs since the Pat O'Brien Stakes at Del Mar in August 2013 and has not run at seven furlongs on the dirt since February 2013, when he was fourth in the San Carlos. Drill has a lifetime record of three wins out of seven starts at seven furlongs. Drill is winless in 13 efforts since taking the La Barrera Memorial at Hollywod Park May 12, 2012, as a 3-year-old.
This year's Triple Bend is one of 19 new stakes Santa Anita picked up due to the shutdown of Betfair Hollywood Park, which had a synthetic surface.