With a blistering early pace to take advantage of, Sahara Sky, with Joe Talamo up, came roaring from far off the pace to take Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Carlos Stakes by three quarters of a length, covering seven furlongs in 1:21.28.
As Comma to the Top and Justin Phillip ding-donged through fractions of 22.11, 43.88 and 1:08.09, Talamo was content to lag far back early in the field of eight.
“They had a real hot pace,” said Talamo. “It really set up good for us today. I’ll tell you what, this horse is one of those that only gets better with age…He runs well fresh. It was going so fast up there and they stopped pretty good for us, but my horse was really running the last part.”
As Comma to the Top and Edwin Maldonado opened up a length on Justin Phillip and Mike Smith at the top of the lane, Sahara Sky, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, was in high gear four-wide and at the sixteenth pole, there was little doubt he would prevail.
“He got a good trip and it was just about a perfect ride, you might say. I hope he can maintain it (good form). He sure is a good horse.”
Fresh off victory at 21-1 in the Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes going six furlongs on Jan. 19, Sahara Sky proved that win was no fluke and improved his overall mark to an outstanding 14-6-2-4. With the winner’s share of $120,000, his earnings now stand at $356,680.
“This horse is a different horse this year,” said Kim Lloyd, who races as Sweetwater Stable and owns the 5-year-old in partnership with Hollendorfer. “He’s run well all the time, but he would put so much into his races when he was fresh that he didn’t seem to have that same finish in his subsequent races. He’s matured now though and he’s firing back to back. He might be a pretty good horse.”
Runner-up Capital Account, last past the half mile pole with David Flores, unleashed a big stretch rally and finished a head in front of Comma to the Top. Off at 5-1 Capital Account paid $5.80 and $4.40.
Comma to the Top, who broke from the rail and never got a breather, stayed well but had to settle for third, 2 ¼ lengths in front of Drill and Julien Leparoux. Comma to the Top, off at 6-1, paid $5.00 to show.
Heavy favorite The Lumber Guy, ridden by Garrett Gomez, was dispatched at 9-5 and sat third, five lengths off the pace passing the half mile pole and had no punch through the lane.
“I had a perfect trip,” said Gomez. “He traveled beautifully, but when the running started, the horse never came up underneath me. We’ll have to go back to the drawing board.”
The win in the San Carlos was the first for both Hollendorfer and Talamo.
There is a Pick Six carryover of $101,001 into Sunday at Santa Anita. It is expected Sunday’s total pool will exceed $750,000.