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SKY HIGH GAL, WITH NAKATANI UP, PREVAILS IN BLANKET FINISH TO TAKE $75,000 WISHING WELL, SADLER WINS FOUR RACES, THREE STAKES ON WEEKEND
ONE WINNING PICK SIX TICKET, PURCHASED FOR JUST $16.00 AT PENN NATIONAL, PAYS $119,476
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 9, 2014)—Trainer 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 four runners.
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 Antonio with Blingo, and he won Sunday’s third race with highly regarded first time starter Sweet Profit.
“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 campaign.
“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 winner 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 pace.
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.
Racing resumes at Santa Anita on Thursday, with first post time at 1 p.m. The track will conduct a five-day race week, as there will be special holiday racing on Monday, Feb. 17, which is Presidents’ Day. Santa Anita will offer one dollar beers, sodas and hot dogs on Monday as well.