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Longshot Sahara Sky Pays $45.20 in Palos Verdes

Sahara Sky with jockey JOE TALAMO up wins the 2013 running of the Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California on January 19, 2013.
Idle since June 22, and the longest shot in the seven-horse field, Sahara Sky and Joe Talamo made short work of their rivals in winning Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita, cruising home from off the pace in a rapid 1:07.73 while prevailing by one length over 5-2 second choice Private Zone and Martin Pedroza.

“He ran unbelievable,” said Talamo. “That was actually the closest he’s ever run. I thought he was going to be 10 lengths further back than he was. He broke sharply, he put me right there, and I still had a lot of horse when I called on him.”

As expected, Comma to the Top, with Edwin Maldonado up, and Private Zone engaged early, setting fractions of 21.50, 43.61 and 55.50.

“It was like having a Quarter Horse in there trying to burn me out (referring to Comma to the Top). My horse never could relax, he just kept seeing the other horse. He wanted to go after him and I didn’t want to choke him back, it’s only six furlongs.

“He never stopped, my horse was always running, even when the other horse (Sahara Sky) ran by him, he was still running.”

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Sahara Sky, a 5-year-old Florida-bred horse by Pleasant Tap, paid $45.20, $14.40 and $5.00.

A first-out maiden $20,000 claiming winner on Nov. 26, 2010 at Delta Downs in Louisiana, Sahara’s Sky’s most recent win came with Talamo aboard on May 19, 2012, in a second condition allowance race at Betfair Hollywood Park. The Palos Verdes was his first foray into graded stakes competition.

“We both thought that the two speed horses would hook up and maybe make a good pace for us,” said Hollendorfer in reference to his pre-game consultation with Talamo. “That’s the key to winning a race like this. We had to have a little pace in front of us for that particular kind of horse, so we got lucky today and he came through for us.”

The winner’s share of $90,000 padded Sahara Sky’s bankroll to $236,680 as he improved his record to 13-5-2-4. He’s owned by Hollendorfer and Kim Lloyd’s Sweetwater Stable.

Private Zone, who finished a half-length in front of 5-2 favorite Justin Phillip and Rafael Bejarano, paid $4.40 and $3.00.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Justin Phillip had trained well since running a close fifth in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 3, and had a pace scenario that should have been to his liking in the Palos Verdes.

“The pace was good for me and I was four lengths behind from the speed,” said Bejarano. “When he came running in the stretch, he didn’t show me what I expected.”

Justin Phillip paid $2.80 to show and finished 2 ½ lengths clear of Comma to the Top.

 

 

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