In her Southern California debut, Sky High Gal
and jockey Julien
Leparoux overcame an unfavorable pace scenario and gutted it out the
length of the stretch to hold on and win the $75,000 Blue Norther Stakes
for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita Tuesday by a nose, getting
one-mile on turf in 1:36.22.
“It didn’t go exactly to plan,” said Leparoux. “She was sharp
right away, and a little keen before the first turn. She relaxed well
on the backside though. She got a little tired today but she showed a
lot of heart.”
A Kentucky-bred daughter of top miler Leroidesanimaux, Sky High
Gal began her career in Toronto Canada this past October, breaking her
maiden going seven furlongs on turf at Woodbine on Oct. 21. She was
then an impressive allowance winner at Churchill Downs, winning easily
at 1 1/16 miles on turf on Nov. 24.
“We bought her as a replacement for Lady of Shamrock (2012 Blue
Norther winner),” said winning trainer John Sadler. “We had an outside
post and she got pulling harder than we really wanted. I really thought
the speed would develop in front of her and she’d tuck in and sit about
fourth or fifth.
“She’s got a lot of potential and she’s going to get a lot better
as we get a little further into it. We’ll keep her on the grass here
for a while and then look at synthetic maybe a little later on.”
The 5-2 favorite, Sky High Gal, breaking from post 10 in the
11-horse Blue Norther, was second, just a half-length off the lead on
the Club House turn. She sat close to fractions of 23.33, 47.05, and
made the lead passing the quarter pole, stopping the six furlong timer
in 1:25 and the seven furlong in 1:23.80.
Sky High Gal returned $7.20, $4.00 and $3.40. The winner’s
share of $48,300 extended her bankroll to $120,083 from an overall mark
With a length and a half advantage at the top of the lane,
Leparoux and Sky High Gal were desperate to hold off the charge of 5-2
second choice Scarlet Strike and Joe Talamo.
“It was close. I was hoping we had a good (head) bob,” said
Talamo. “She handled her first time on turf great, handled it real
well. We were able to get a good, ground-saving trip. Then, when she
got through the last part, we just got outrun.”
Scarlet Strike, who was well off the early pace, split horses in
mid-stretch and cut to the rail, just missing on the wire. She paid
$3.80 and $3.40.
Irish-bred Wittgenstein, a longshot at 19-1, finished third with
Mario Gutierrez, just a nose behind Scarlet Strike and a neck in front
of fourth-place finisher Escape Act and Martin Garcia.
Wittgenstein paid $6.20 to show.