Swiss Skydiver earns impressive Beholder Mile victory at Santa Anita

ARCADIA — While the other six jockeys were riding horses in Saturday’s $300,000 Grade I Beholder Mile at Santa Anita, Robby Albarado was aboard something a bit more powerful.

“It’s like driving a Ferrari,” the 47-year-old jockey said in the winner’s circle after guiding the remarkable filly Swiss Skydiver to a 2 3/4-length victory as the 7-5 favorite in her first start of 2021.

The 4-year-old daughter of Daredevil continues to impress after running at nine different race tracks last year and winning two Grade I stakes en route to an Eclipse Award as the nation’s top 3-year-old filly.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, Saratoga or Oaklawn Park, Swiss Skydiver runs like she owns the track. Pimlico Race Course? She won the Preakness last year, beating 10 of her male counterparts in an effort as gutty as they come. She wouldn’t let Horse of the Year Authentic get by in the stretch, beating him by a neck.

“I’ve been on some phenomenal fillies … but she’s special,” Albarado said. “She breathes different air. Every time I get on her it’s different. She shows more and more improvement. She could come back this year just as good or better than last year.”

And she ships all over the country successfully. Some talented horses find it difficult to travel away from their main track and win, but Swiss Skydiver just scoffs at the notion that she should stay home.

“If they ran over broken glass she’d say, ‘No problem. Let’s do it,’” winning trainer Kenny McPeek said after she remained unbeaten in two starts at Santa Anita following last year’s victory in the Grade II Santa Anita Oaks. “Traveling is no problem. She thrives on it.”

Said Albarado: “She brings the track with her, and she’ll run on any surface. It doesn’t matter, grass or dirt. I think she’d be a great grass filly down the road, too. But we’re enjoying the ride now. She’s giving us a helluva ride.”

Swiss Skydiver, who’s won 7 of 13 starts and padded her career bankroll to $2,025,480 with Saturday’s first-place check for $180,000, was making her first start since finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 7 after stumbling badly at the start.

It was fitting that such a talented filly would win a stakes race named after the incomparable Beholder, who was the first horse in 40 years to win a Grade I race at age 2, 3, 4 and 5 and one of only three horses to win three Breeders’ Cup races.

Beholder beat another talented filly in her own right, Songbird, by a nose in the final race of her career in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita in one of the most memorable Breeders’ Cup races of all time.

“She’s just a machine. She’s just so fast, so talented,” McPeek said of Swiss Skydiver.

Fourth after the first quarter mile, Swiss Skydiver had improved to third around the turn and opened a 1 1/2-length lead at the head of the stretch.

The race was over at that point and the other six fillies and mares were racing for second place. As Time Goes By, the 9-5 second choice trained by Bob Baffert, got up for second, 1 3/4 lengths in front of pacesetter Golden Principal, another Baffert trainee.

Afterward, McPeek was asked what’s next for Swiss Skydiver. He said her connections will look at the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park on April 17 or the La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs on April 30.

Then McPeek got a twinkle in his eye.

“Maybe we’ll go hunt Monomoy Girl now,” he said.

San Simeon Stakes

Gregorian Chant rallied from fifth in the six-horse field of turf sprinters and beat Sombeyay by a neck in the $100,000 Grade III race for older horses.

Ridden by Juan Hernandez, the 5-year-old gelded son of Gregorian won for the fifth time in 14 starts and is 2 for 2 in turf sprints at Santa Anita for trainer Philip D’Amato.

Jolie Olimpica, a 5-year-old mare taking on the boys for trainer Richard Mandella, finished third as the even-money favorite under Mike Smith.

Winning time for the 6 furlongs over a turf course labeled “good” was 1:08.79.

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Wound Tight dominant in winning Unusual Heat Turf Classic at Santa Anita

ARCADIA — Wound Tight, bet down from 5-1 on the morning line to the 3-1 third choice in the wagering, took the eight-horse field gate to wire, easily winning the $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic by 3 1/2 lengths on a Saturday afternoon when Santa Anita carded five stakes restricted to California-breds.

The 5-year-old gelding by Coil, one of only two horses in the field to have won at the race’s 1 1/8-mile distance, finished in 1:48.24 after carving out easy fractions of 23.39, 48.62 and 1:13.

Coming in off a nose victory in a $40,000 optional claimer at Del Mar on Dec. 1, Wound Tight, ridden by Abel Cedillo and trained by Bob Hess Jr., won for the fourth time in 10 starts.

Ward ‘n Jerry, the 2-1 favorite, finished second, a half-length in front of 34-1 longshot Cono. Ashleyluvssugar, a 9-year-old gelding whose career is winding down, finished fourth at 7-2 in the eight-horse field.

“This horse is very strong on the lead,” Cedillo said. “There was no pace, so he was tough on the lead. He never got tired. We came back in front of the grandstand and he still wanted to run.”

The 58-year-old Gerardo Morales, Hess’ assistant who’s been with the barn for 35 years, said he was a bit concerned about the distance.

“But he definitely got the job done. I’m really happy with him,” said Morales, who saddled the winner because Hess was in Florida. “When I saw the fractions, I said, ‘We have a big chance.’ When they turned for home I knew it was all over.”

Fatality in opener 

Uncontainable, a 5-year-old daughter of Acclamation who made 11 starts in her career, broke her right front ankle in the stretch of Saturday’s first race and had to be euthanized, the second fatality in two days at Santa Anita and third racing death of the meeting.

Trained by Peter Miller, Uncontainable won three of her 11 races for earnings of $24,390.On Friday, the Val Brinkerhoff-trained Harliss, seventh in the eight-horse field in the final race of the day, was unsaddled and vanned off. He later had to be euthanized.

A necropsy will be performed on the two horses, as required by the California Horse Racing Board.

Veteran rider delivers 

Agapito Delgadillo, a 53-year-old native of Mexico City, doesn’t get many chances to ride in $150,000 stakes races, but he was aboard the winner of the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint.

Stealthediamonds, the 3-1 second choice, broke on top in the six-horse field and never looked back, holding off 1-2 favorite Just Grazed Me to win by a half-length in 1:01.61 for the 5 1/2 furlongs over a firm grass course.

Win streak continues 

Fashionably Fast made it five consecutive victories by winning the $150,000 California Cup Sprint by a neck over Lieutenant Dan, running the 6 furlongs in 1:09.60 over a fast main track as the 2-1 second choice.

Ridden by Tiago Pereira, the Dean Pederson-trained Fashionably Fast, a 5-year-old gelding by Lucky Pulpit, won for the sixth time in 15 races. Demonstrating his gameness, he’s won four of the six by three-quarters of a length or less.

It’s Showtime 

Warren’s Showtime came charging home from fifth to win the $200,000 California Cup Oaks by 3 1/2 lengths under Jorge Velez for trainer Craig Lewis.

Sent postward at 4-1, the 3-year-old daughter of Clubhouse Ride ran the 1 mile on the turf in 1:36.50. The 3-1 favorite, Been Studying Her, finished 11th in the 12-horse field.

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Roy H keeps rolling with Palos Verdes Stakes win at Santa Anita

  • Hronis Racing’s Accelerate and jockey Victor Espinoza, right, outrun the field to win the Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia Calif., Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Benoit Photo via AP)

    Hronis Racing’s Accelerate and jockey Victor Espinoza, right, outrun the field to win the Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia Calif., Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Benoit Photo via AP)

  • Lombo and jockey Flavien Prat win the Grade III, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia Calif. (Benot Photo via AP)

    Lombo and jockey Flavien Prat win the Grade III, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia Calif. (Benot Photo via AP)

  • Lombo and jockey Flavien Prat win the Grade III, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia Calif. (Benoit Photo via AP)

    Lombo and jockey Flavien Prat win the Grade III, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia Calif. (Benoit Photo via AP)

  • Roy H and jockey Kent Desormeaux, right, outleg Red Lightning (Tyler Conner), and Americanize, second from left, in the Grade II, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Benoit Photo via AP)

    Roy H and jockey Kent Desormeaux, right, outleg Red Lightning (Tyler Conner), and Americanize, second from left, in the Grade II, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Benoit Photo via AP)

  • Jockey Tyler Baze guides Itsinthepost to the winner’s circle after their victory in the Grade II, $200,000 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Benoit Photo via AP)

    Jockey Tyler Baze guides Itsinthepost to the winner’s circle after their victory in the Grade II, $200,000 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Benoit Photo via AP)

  • Red Baron’s Barn’s Itsinthepost and jockey Tyler Baze, right, nose out Hayabusa One (Victor Espinoza), left, to win the Grade II, $200,000 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia Calif., Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Benoit Photo via AP)

    Red Baron’s Barn’s Itsinthepost and jockey Tyler Baze, right, nose out Hayabusa One (Victor Espinoza), left, to win the Grade II, $200,000 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia Calif., Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Benoit Photo via AP)

  • Jockey Victor Espinoza guides Accelerate to the winner’s circle after their victory in the Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia Calif., Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Benoit Photo via AP)

    Jockey Victor Espinoza guides Accelerate to the winner’s circle after their victory in the Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia Calif., Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Benoit Photo via AP)

  • In a photo provided by Benoit Photo, Lombo and jockey Flavien Prat win the Grade III, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes horse race Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. (Benoit Photo via AP)

    In a photo provided by Benoit Photo, Lombo and jockey Flavien Prat win the Grade III, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes horse race Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. (Benoit Photo via AP)

  • In a photo provided by Benoit Photo, Lombo, right, with jockey Flavien Prat, outlegs Ayacara, left, with Kent Desormeaux, to win the Grade III, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes horse race Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. (Benoit Photo via AP)

    In a photo provided by Benoit Photo, Lombo, right, with jockey Flavien Prat, outlegs Ayacara, left, with Kent Desormeaux, to win the Grade III, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes horse race Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. (Benoit Photo via AP)

  • Roy H and jockey Kent Desormeaux win the Grade II $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita Park. (Benoit Photo via AP)

    Roy H and jockey Kent Desormeaux win the Grade II $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita Park. (Benoit Photo via AP)

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ARCADIA — Roy H made a triumphant return to the races, Accelerate showed again that he’s one of the top older horses in Southern California and Peace disappointed big time in his 3-year-old debut Saturday during a big stakes day at Santa Anita.

Not to be outdone, Itsinthepost continued his run as one of the most consistent turf runners on the grounds during a nine-race program highlighted by three $200,000 Grade II stakes and a $150,000 Grade III event that annually serves as a springboard to the Santa Anita Derby.

Roy H, making his 6-year-old debut after a one-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Del Mar on Nov. 4, toyed with his three rivals in the Palos Verdes Stakes for older sprinters. He won under Kent Desormeaux by 3½ lengths as the 1-5 favorite, completing the six furlongs in 1:09.68 as Americanize, Red Lightning and Mongolian Saturday completed the order of finish.

“He’s a super horse,” Desormeaux said of Roy H. “I wanna say he’s the best sprinter I’ve ever ridden.”

Roy H, a gelded son of More Than Ready, has won three consecutive races and six of his past seven while putting a huge smile on the face of trainer Peter Miller.

“The horse has been a model of consistency,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a horse put in seven top races in a row like he has against top quality horses. He’s certainly the best sprinter I’ve ever trained.”

Miller said the $400,000 Grade I Triple Bend Stakes on March 10 at Santa Anita will probably be next for Roy H, followed by the Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 31.

In the afternoon’s other three stakes:

• Accelerate overcame much trouble to win the San Pasqual Stakes, a major prep for the March 10 Santa Anita Handicap. Jockey Victor Espinoza said the 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky bounced off the rail a couple of times before he found room on the inside to prevail by 1¾ lengths, running the 1-1/8 miles in 1:50.58.

Prime Attraction finished second, 2½ lengths in front of Mubtaahij. Pavel, the 2-1 favorite finished fourth.

“He got bumped around a little bit, but this horse showed a lot of guts today,” said Juan Leyva, trainer John Sadler’s assistant. “He’s obviously a really nice horse and he showed it today.”

Accelerate has now won five of 16 lifetime races after scoring his first victory at Santa Anita in nine tries. He’d finished second three times and third on four occasions before Saturday.

• Peace, the 2-1 favorite, did not enjoy the added blinkers while finishing fifth in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes as 8-1 shot Lombo went gate to wire to win by two lengths under Flavien Prat.

“I thought the blinkers would wake him up, but it backfired on us big time,” jockey Mike Smith said. “I feel bad because it was my idea … I thought let’s just put a set of blinkers on him to make him concentrate. And he did, in the morning.

“I thought he’d pull me right up there with them today, but every chance he got he tried to pull up. I mean, he felt great, wasn’t even blowing at the end. I’m the only tired one.”

Lombo ran the 1-1/16 miles in 1:45.41 while making his stakes debut after a 3½-length maiden victory on Jan. 20 at Santa Anita.

“He’s starting to figure it out,” trainer Mike Pender said. “When he does really figure it out, I think he’ll be really dangerous.”

• Tyler Baze was full of superlatives after 4-5 favorite Itsinthepost held off 14-1 longshot Hayabusa One by a nose to win the San Marcos Stakes for older horses on the turf, completing the 1¼-mile distance in 1:58.24.

“He’s a really special horse,” Baze said. “He’s going to get a bag full of apples in the morning, that’s for sure.”

Itsinthepost, a 6-year-old gelded son of American Post, won for the eighth time in 32 starts, scoring the fourth Grade I victory of his career following a 1½-length win in the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes on Jan. 6 at Santa Anita.

Owner Jed Cohen was succinct when asked if he thought his horse had won when they hit the wire.

“I didn’t, but everybody else did,” he said.

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