LONGSHOT SAHARA SKY & TALAMO CRUISE TO VICTORY IN 61st GRADE II PALOS VERDES STAKES AT SANTA ANITA

A JEALOUS WOMAN, BLANC TAKE SALOON PASSAGE TO WIN MEGAHERTZ

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 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.

CAL-BRED A JEALOUS WOMAN & BLANC PREVAIL IN $75,000 MEGAHERTZ

The lone California-bred in the seven-horse Megahertz Stakes for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf, 7-year-old A Jealous Woman and Brice Blanc rushed inside 9-5 favorite In the Stars and Corey Nakatani midway around the far turn and once again demonstrated her gameness in a resolute stretch run to win by a neck over Irish-bred Byrony and Garrett Gomez, covering the mile in 1:33.09.

“I decided to move when I did and to get inside Corey, because if I went outside of him, I thought he’d float me out,” said Blanc. “On the grass, you have to save ground. When I made the decision, I knew she would quicken for me and keep that steady run going. She’s not one of those fillies that have a quick acceleration but she has a steady, long, fast run.”

On the strength of her strong second-place showing in the Grade II Goldikova Stakes on Nov. 4, the daughter of Muqtarib was sent off as the 2-1 second choice and paid $6.60, $3.80 and $2.80.

Owned by Three Cent Stable and trained by Francis Meza, A Jealous Woman wasn’t originally ticketed to run in the Megahertz.

“She was nominated to the (Grade III) Frankel Stakes (on Dec. 30) but she had something going on in her feet and she couldn’t make it,” said Meza. “So we worked on that and got her ready for this.”

With the winner’s share of $60,600, A Jealous Woman increased her earnings to $443,856 and ran her record to 19-8-3-3.

Byrony, off at 9-1, kept to her task in the lane and bested In the Stars by a head, but could never get fully on terms with the winner. She paid $7.00 and $3.40.

“She ran good,” said Gomez. “I thought when I was covered (able to sit mid-pack to the half mile pole) I would be able to get by them. I could just never get by them.”

In the Stars set the pace to the half mile pole establishing splits of 22.05 and 45.86, while the winner stopped the six furlong timer in 1:09.30 and the seven furlong in 1:20.98.

“I didn’t want to be on the lead and I got the guy next to me (Rafael Bejarano aboard 3-1 shot Lady Ten) smooching,” said the always colorful Nakatani. “I couldn’t get my filly behind a horse so that really just screwed up our whole plan. I was wanting to be three or four lengths back at least, but like I said, the guy next to me’s chirping. At the same time, she wasn’t disgraced running those fractions.”

In the Stars paid $3.00 to show and finished 1 ¾ lengths in front of Hard to Resist and Joe Talamo. Lady Ten was another neck back, finishing fifth.

First post time on Sunday at Santa Anita is 12:30 p.m. The Grade II, $150,000 La Canada Stakes highlights a nine-race program.