A GLEAM H. | PURSE: $200,000 | FILLIES AND MARES | 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | GRADE 2 | 7-FURLONGS
Switch finally made her way back into the winner's circle on Saturday when running down six rivals in the Grade 2, $200,000 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park. The John Sadler pupil hadn't scored since taking the Grade 1 Santa Monica in January 2011, but pulled out a 1 3/4-length victory Saturday to stop the clock for seven Cushion Track furlongs in 1:24 1/5.
Despite the long dry spell, Switch was sent off the 2-1 favorite under jockey Garrett Gomez, who immediately let his mount settle in last after being crowded at the start. Izzy Rules led the way through splits of :22 1/5 and :45 while closing tracked by American Lady and Sugarinthemorning on the backstretch.
Sugarinthemorning stuck her head in front through three-quarters in 1:10 2/5 as those three and Teddy's Promise lined up across the track rounding the turn. Meanwhile, Switch was just beginning her run and swung four wide into the lane, getting into stride late and powering down the center of the track to get the win.
"It kind of set up for her today. Things kind of worked out, but she was traveling very well," Gomez said. "I had some difficulty on the turn with her, a little miscommunication, but once I got her lined up turning for home, she did what she was supposed to do and her class just showed. She showed she is a nice mare.
"I don't know how many Grade 1 races she has won, but she ran a really nice race today and hopefully she will continue to get back on the form that she once had."
Switch paid $6.60, $3.80 and $2.60 for the victory, with Sugarinthemorning holding second by 2 1/4 lengths over Glamorista. American Lady, Teddy's Promise, Izzy Rules and Mildly Offensive completed the order under the wire.
"She is a great filly, she always tries so hard," said Marin Garcia, who had piloting duties aboard Sugarinthemorning. "I let her run away from the gate, she wanted to be there. We tried to get to the lead, she did and I got beat by a really good horse."
Campaigned by Lee and Susan Searing's C R K Stable, Switch earned an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint by virtue of her win on Saturday, something Sadler said was the goal all along.
"(Her owners) brought her back this year just to try her again in the Breeders' Cup," the horseman said. "She's been second (in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint) the last two years. Now we get a Breeders' Cup at home (at Santa Anita). I love the 'Win and You're In' (program). I think that's tremendous. You save a lot of money on entry fees and you take the pressure off. She's been a very good horse for us."
While Switch hasn't been able to score, the five-year-old daughter of Quiet American has placed in six of her eight races since taking the Santa Monica. Among those were seconds in the Santa Margarita Invitational, Apple Blossom Handicap and Vanity Handicap, all Grade 1s, as well as thirds in the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes and Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes.
The bay mare didn't show much in her opening two races this year, running off-the-board in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff Stakes and Desert Stormer Handicap, but adds the A Gleam to wins in the Grade 1 La Brea, Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks and Torrey Pines Stakes from 2010. Her record now stands at 21-6-7-4 and she's earned $1,362,526 lifetime.
"We knew with Switch, she wasn't real sharp in her first race (May 5 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs) and I thought she needed her last race (when fourth in the Desert Stormer Handicap on June 17), so it moved her forward for this one," Sadler said. "It's all a process."
Bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm, Switch sold for $150,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. She is out of the Grade 3-winning Nicholas mare Antoniette, who has also produced stakes scorer Keystone Gulch. Switch's third dam, the Never Bend mare Tash, is noted for foaling French highweight and sire Mukaddamah, Group 3 hero Tatami and dual stakes victress Mariuka, the latter of whom would go on to produce Grade 3 winner Lydgate.
Switch's fourth dam is Broodmare of the Year Natashka.
"It's been a rough season for me with my (graded stakes) horses," Sadler admitted on the penultimate day of Hollywood's spring/summer meet. "We ended up strong, so that's really good. There were a lot of Saturdays through the middle of the meet here where we were second or third, and we're supposed to be winning those races. I'm very relieved and happy and we'll keep working. That's our program. Sometimes you take steps."