Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Oaklawn Runners Take Top Four Spots in Gold Cup

Oaklawn-raced horses went 1-2-3-4 in the $500,000 Gold Cup (G1) Saturday at Santa Anita, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event. Melatonin, runner-up in the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 16, surpassed $1 million in career earnings with his 1 ½-length victory over Win the Space.

Win the Space, as a maiden, finished sixth behind future Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) last year. In the Gold Cup, Win the Space finished three-quarters of a length ahead of defending champion Hard Aces, who was a nose in front of Hoppertunity.

Hard Aces finished sixth in last year’s Oaklawn Handicap. Hoppertunity won the $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) in 2014. The Rebel is Oaklawn’s final major prep for the Arkansas Derby.

Melatonin, who was ridden by Joe Talamo, ran 1 ¼ miles over a fast track in 1:59.79 and paid $5.60 as the 9-5 favorite. Before finishing second in the Oaklawn Handicap, Melatonin won the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (G1) March 12 at Santa Anita.

Saturday’s victory earned the 5-year-old gelded son of Kodiak Kowboy a guaranteed berth in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita. Trained by David Hofmans, Melatonin has a 5-3-3 record from 13 lifetime starts and earnings of $1,218,552.

Kodiak Kowboy was an allowance/optional claiming winner of his 3-year-old debut in 2008 at Oaklawn and the country’s champion male sprinter in 2009.

Sarah Smile

Sarah Sis was a front-running one-length winner of the $100,000 Chicago Handicap (G3) for filly and mare sprinters Saturday at Arlington Park. Under jockey Jose Valdivia Jr., she covered 7 furlongs in 1:23.16 and paid $5.60 as the 9-5 favorite.

Sarah Sis wintered the last two years at Oaklawn, winning the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) in 2015 and finishing second in the $100,000 American Beauty Stakes Jan. 23.

Saturday’s victory was the seventh in 18 lifetime starts for Sarah Sis, a 4-year-old daughter of Sharp Humor, and boosted her career earnings to $662,500.

On behalf of owner Joe Ragsdale, trainer Ingrid Mason purchased Sarah Sis for $20,000 as a 2-year-old at the OBS June sale. She is a five-time stakes winner, with four coming in graded events.

Chicago Handicap runner-up Kathballu ran third in a 2015 allowance/optional claimer at Oaklawn in her 3-year-old debut.

Milestone for Hill

Channing Hill, who finished fourth in Oaklawn’s jockey standings in 2016, recorded his 1,000th career victory in Friday’s eighth race at Churchill Downs. Hill, 28, reached the milestone aboard Shut the Gate for Chris Hartman, Oaklawn’s 2015 training champion.

Hill began riding in 2003 and won his first race in 2004, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Then based in New York, he was runner-up for an Eclipse Award as the country’s top apprentice in 2005.

Hill won a single-season Oaklawn-best 33 races this year. He scored his biggest career Oaklawn victory to date aboard Sugar Shock in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) in 2014.

Hill is the son-in-law of Wayne Catalano, Oaklawn’s co-11th-leading trainer this year.

Finish Lines

Four-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. finished fifth aboard Impulsive in Sunday’s 90th Gazi Derby, Turkey’s most prestigious race. … Santana will ride at Indiana Grand and Ellis Park after Churchill’s spring/summer meet ends Saturday, according to his agent, Ruben Munoz. … Jon Court, Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2000, will miss the remainder of the Churchill Downs spring/summer meet after injuring his ribs in a water skiing accident. Court has 3,976 career victories, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. … Subtle Indian, the only four-time winner at this year’s at Oaklawn meeting, finished second in Saturday’s $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita. Subtle Indian won the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 10 at Oaklawn. … Brad Cox, Oaklawn’s fourth-leading trainer this year, has 491 career victories, according to Equibase. 

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