Photo: Benoit Photo
John Sadler, off to a slow start at the current meet, won his third
stakes of the weekend on Sunday, as his Sky High Gal prevailed in a
four-horse blanket photo to win the $75,000 Wishing Well Stakes by a
head under Corey Nakatani, negotiating 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s
hillside turf course in 1:12.22.
Breaking from post position two in a field of eight older fillies and
mares, Sky High Gal set the early pace and had a half length advantage
on eventual second place finisher Birdlover coming to the dirt crossing
at the top of the lane, lost the lead briefly in deep stretch and
responded to prevail under a powerful hand ride over Birdlover,
Fanticola and favored Purim’s Dancer as a virtual length covered the top
Sadler, who had five wins and 15 seconds from 62 starts coming into the
weekend, won a pair of stakes on Saturday--the Grade II Robert B. Lewis
with Candy Boy, the Grade II San Marcos with Vagabond Shoes, and he won
Sunday’s third race with highly regarded first time starter Sweet
“The past few days have felt real good,” said Sadler. “Today was a
nice topper. This filly was already a stakes winner here last year and
we’ve had to stop and start with her a few times due to some things but
she has a lot of ability, so we’re excited to start her 4-year-old
“Corey rides the turf really well. Joel Rosario rode her last time
during the Breeders’ Cup weekend here but she was a little rank with
him. She was more relaxed today, she relaxed much better.”
Ridden for the first time by Nakatani and owned by Hronis Racing, LLC,
Sky High Gal was off at 6-1 and paid $15.40, $6.80 and $5.00. With the
winner’s share of $47,400, the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by
Leroidesanimaux hiked her earnings to $173,733. She now has four wins
from seven career starts.
“I knew Gary (Stevens, aboard Purim’s Dancer) was there at the rail and
I knew it was going to take a special filly to be able to beat his
horse. My filly dug in and gave it her all and that’s a tribute to
John’s exercise boys and the guys in the barn. They work hard.”
English-bred Birdlover, off at 7-2 and ridden by Mike Smith, stalked
the favorite down the hill and just missed late, as she finished a neck
in front of Fanticola and Joe Talamo, who rallied wide-out from off the
Birdlover paid $5.00 and $3.60.
Fanticola, a bit erratic a furlong out, shifted outside the winner
passing the sixteenth pole and finished third, a head in front of
Purim’s Dancer and Gary Stevens, who made a rail run through the lane.
Fanticola paid $4.00 to show.
A winner of last year’s Wishing Well, Purim’s Dancer broke a bit tardily from post six.
“We stood in the gate quite a while,” said Stevens. “There was a horse
coming up and my mare has a temper. She got mad, was rearing up with
me and the gate crew had to get her under control. She missed the start
but she ran a good race despite all that.”
Adrien Beltre, slugging third baseman for the Texas Rangers, was
accompanied by his family in the Winnner’s Circle and he presented the
Wishing Well trophy.
“I live near here,” said Beltre. “My wife has liked horses for a long
time and I like horses too. We’re looking into maybe owning a horse and
trying to be more involved in the community. I’m thinking about
retiring in the next few years and then maybe I can spend more time out
here with the horses.”
There was one winning ticket in Santa Anita’s Pick Six on Sunday.
Purchased for just $16.00 at Penn National, it paid $119,476.