ARCADIA, Calif. (March 8, 2014)–Sahara Sky is back. Dead last, eight lengths off the lead with a quarter of a mile to run, the 6-year-old horse by Pleasant Tap avenged a disappointing run off the bench Feb. 2 to win Saturday’s Grade II, $250,000 San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita by a half length under Joel Rosario, covering seven furlongs in 1:20.84.
Breaking from the rail, Sahara Sky, who is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, broke sharply in a field of 10 older horses and was taken back off the pace by Rosario as the field came out of the chute and was shuffled back to last leaving the three furlong pole.
“It was a really good ride,” said Rosario. “He was in a little bit of trouble turning for home. I had to try and find some room and as soon as someone gave me enough room, I tried to find my way through. When I asked him, he was good. He was good after all that.”
A winner of last year’s Grade II Palos Verdes, San Carlos and Metropolitan (mile) Handicap at Belmont Park May 27, Sahara Sky was a disappointing fifth in this year’s Palos Verdes on Feb. 2, his first start since the Met Mile score.
“I just told Joel to help him away from there a little bit and not let him get 15 lengths out of it,” said Hollendorfer. “My eyes were on Wild Dude (also trained by Hollendorfer) because he was the one that was prevalent coming down the lane. I thought he was going to win, then I saw Sahara Sky come on the outside…He won the Met Mile last year and that would probably be the point race for him this year.”
Owned by Hollendorfer and Kim Lloyd’s Sweetwater Stable, Sahara Sky was the second choice at 3-1 and paid $8.80, $5.00 and $3.60. Sahara Sky notched his eighth win from 18 starts and with the winner’s share of $150,000, Sahara Sky became a millionaire with $1,040,680 in career earnings.
California-bred Big Macher, ridden by Luis Saez, finished second by a head after fighting it out on the front-end with Cyclometer and Joe Talamo through fractions of 22.72, 44.77 and 1:08.48. Off at 9-1, he paid $9.40 and $7.00.
Clubhouse Ride, the longest shot in the field with Tyler Baze at 38-1, finished a nose in front of Wild Dude and paid $11.60 to show.