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SKY KINGDOM RULES IN GRADE III TOKYO CITY CUP, SON OF EMPIRE MAKER WINS MARATHON BY 3 ¾ LENGTHS
ARCADIA, Calif. (March 23, 2013)—In his third start off a 51-week freshening, Sky Kingdom, with Martin Garcia aboard, made short work of seven rivals in taking Saturday’s marathon Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup by 3 ¾ lengths, getting 1 ½ miles on the main track in 2:30.56.
With 25-1 shot Batti Man going to the front, Sky Kingdom, who is trained by Bob Baffert and who exited two consecutive races going a flat mile, sat a comfortable second and assumed command with a quarter mile to run.
“I was outside the speed today. I let my horse break on his own and just cruised around,” said Garcia. “He relaxed perfectly, and when I kicked in he just took off. My plan was to let somebody go to the lead and let my horse sit on the outside and stay comfortable, and that is exactly the way it went today.”
Off at 5-1, the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Empire Maker paid $12.20, $6.00 and $3.80.
“He looked great today,” said Baffert. “The only spot to run him was a mile and a half. I didn’t know if he could do it…it’s pretty exciting. You’re not sure how you’re going to do going in, but the horse ran so well. He really stepped it up today but he was training really well…It just worked out great, and he looked so beautiful in the paddock.
“…It was a perfect trip for him. He got everything his way. I’m happy for (winning owners) Westrock. This is my first stakes win for them.”
Owned by Arkansas-based Westrock Stables LLC, Sky Kingdom picked up $60,000 for the win and increased his bankroll to $233,730. With his first-ever graded stakes victory, Sky Kingdom’s record stands at 9-4-0-1.
Oilisblackgold, an improving 6-year-old gelding by Tapit who is trained by Craig Dollase, sat fifth past the half mile pole and finished second with Edwin Maldonado up, 4 ¼ lengths clear of Richard’s Kid and Tyler Baze.
We’re happy,” said Dollase. “We’re already making plans for November (in the Grade II Breeders’ Cup Marathon). We’re working backwards from there.”
Off at 5-1, Oilisblackgold paid $5.40 and $4.00.
A dedicated deep closer, Richard’s Kid added blinkers for the Tokyo City and was sixth past the half mile pole under Tyler Baze. With moderate fractions of 24.81, 48.91, 1:13.95, 1:39.75 and 2:05.45 to run at, Richard’s Kid finished 1 ½ lengths in front of early pacesetter Batti Man and Victor Espinoza.
Off at 9-2, Richard’s Kid paid $3.60 to show.
Argentine-bred Calidoscopio, who was making his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Marathon on Nov. 2, was off as the 5-2 favorite with Aaron Gryder and finished a non-threatening fifth.
Irish-bred Dhaamer, the second choice with Rafael Bejarano at 5-2, finished three quarters of a length behind Calidoscopio and was also never a factor.
First post time at Santa Anita on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. The Grade II, $150,000 Santa Ana Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf, will highlight a nine-race program.