SAN CARLOS STAKES | PURSE: $200,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 7 FURLONGS
For a second time at Santa Anita this winter, Sahara Sky has been the beneficiary of a pace meltdown in one of the track's historic sprint stakes. On January 19 it was the Grade 2 Palos Verdes, and on Saturday the five-year-old son of Pleasant Tap swooped late under Joe Talamo to take the Grade 2, $200,750 San Carlos at seven furlongs.
Aided by a speed duel between Justin Phillip and Comma to the Top, who traded leads through splits of :22 and :43 4/5, Sahara Sky rated four to five lengths off that pair, made his bid inside the eighth pole and edged clear to win by three-quarters of a length in a time of 1:21 1/5 over a fast track. Off at 6-1, Sahara Sky paid $14.60, $6.20 and $4.
Capital Account, who trailed by more than 12 lengths at one point, rallied down the middle of the track to garner runner-up honors by a head over Comma to the Top. The latter, who also was involved in a fast pace in last month's Palos Verdes, finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Drill. The order of finish was rounded out by Justin Phillip, Midnight Transfer, 9-5 favorite The Lumber Guy, and Canonize.
The lightly-raced Sahara Sky, who is co-owned by trainer Jerry Hollendorder and Kim Lloyd's Sweetwater Stables, had raced only once in stakes company prior to his one-length win in the Palos Verdes, finishing seventh in the 2011 El Cajon at Del Mar. Last season, the dark bay won twice in allowance company, but did not start between June 22 and the Palos Verdes. His record now stands at 14-6-2-4, $356,680.
"I think he'll run a good mile," said Hollendorfer when asked if Sahara Sky will be stretched out as the season progresses. "We'll talk a little bit about [running in] the [Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on Memorial Day]. We wouldn't mind doing that, too [running in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande at Santa Anita over 6 1/2 furlongs on April 6]."
Bred in Florida by Martin Stables, Sahara Sky was produced by the Grade 3-winning Seeking the Sky, a daughter of Storm Cat and the Grade 2-winning Seeking Regina. This extended family includes Grade 1 winner Bachelor Beau, Grade 2 winner Just Jenda and Grade 3 victor All Squared Away.