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SKY HIGH GAL RINGS IN NEW YEAR WITH VICTORY IN THE $75,000 BLUE NORTHER AT SANTA ANITA, SADLER TRAINEE IMPRESSIVE IN SO CAL DEBUT UNDER LEPAROUX
ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 1, 2013)—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 of 4-3-1-0.
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.
Santa Anita will be dark on Wednesday and Thursday. Live racing resumes on Friday, with first post time at 1 p.m. First post on Saturday and Sunday will be at 12:30 p.m.