With Joel Rosario riding for trainer and co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer, the 6-year-old son of Pleasant Tap
broke from the one hole and was last of 10 at the top of the stretch. Finding a wall of horses in front of his mount, Rosario drove Sahara Sky through a seam, then angled him to the outside for running room. With ground-gobbling strides, the gray horse wore down early pacesetter Big Macher
and Clubhouse Ride
and scored by a scintillating half-length.
Rosario said Sahara Sky was in some trouble turning for home.
"I had to try and find some room and as soon as someone gave me enough room I tried to find my way through, and when I asked him he was good," the jockey said. "He was good after all that."
Sahara Sky completed seven furlongs in 1:20.84 on a fast track, denying Big Macher a breakthrough graded stakes win.
"My horse has a lot of speed," rider Luis Saez said of Big Macher. "He got in a good position. Coming into the stretch, I felt I had a lot of horse. My horse wasn't tired; he could run, but the other horse beat me. He ran so hard."
Clubhouse Ride finished a head behind Big Macher after stalking from mid-pack early .
An elite sprinter/miler, Sahara Sky won last year's San Carlos by three-quarters of length after capturing the Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II). He was second in the Carter Handicap (gr. I) after the San Carlos, then bounced back to win the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) by a nose at the end of May. That would be his final start of the year as his season was cut short by injury.
Making his first start since the Met Mile in this year's Palos Verdes, Sahara Sky was fifth.
"He's run so well fresh, and when he didn't run his best race (in the Palos Verdes), we felt he wasn't fit," said co-owner Kim Lloyd, who is general manager of Barretts Sales and Racing. "Obviously, that was the case, but you always wonder, and he settled that for us today."
Sahara Sky was sent off the slight 3-1 second favorite in the San Carlos. His record improves to 8-3-4 from 18 career starts and $1,040,680 in earnings.
Shakin It Up
, the 7-5 favorite in the 10-horse field finished fifth after encountering traffic entering the stretch, a length behind fourth-place finisher Wild Dude
Sahara Sky's win was worth $8.80, $5 and $3.60. Big Macher returned $9.40 and $7 while lightly regarded third-place finisher Clubhouse Ride paid $11.60.
Bred in by Martin Stables, Sahara Sky is out of grade III winner Seeking the Sky
, by Storm Cat
. He is a half brother to stakes winner Animal Style