Favored Sanagas joined the ranks of grade I winners with a dominating 3 1/4-length triumph for trainer Graham Motion in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup at Hollywood Park Nov. 19 (VIDEO) .
Motion is hoping that the German-bred Sanagas will emerge next year as one of the leading turf runners in the nation. The 5-year-old son of Lomitas certainly looked the part in swamping his six rivals in the 1 1/2-mile Turf Cup. The final time was 2:27.53 over firm going.
Shipped in from Motion's Fair Hill base in Maryland, Sanagas rang up his third win in five starts in the United States this year for owner Andreas Jacobs. The gelding won the Sycamore Stakes (gr. III) at 1 5/8 miles in an off-the-turf marathon at Keeneland in his most recent start Oct. 20.
With Rajiv Maragh aboard, the stalking Sanagas swept past pacesetting Miss Match and Norvsky heading into the final turn and opened up an insurmountable advantage in the lane. He cruised home under a vigorous hand ride. Bourbon Bay, allowed to fall well off the pace by Garrett Gomez, came on nicely for second, with Falcon Rock third.
The Argentina-bred mare Miss Match, who fought restraint when finishing last in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) two weeks ago, was allowed to go by jockey Mike Smith. She led Norvsky, with Sanagas tugging along on their outside in third, through a slow half-mile in :50.53 and one mile in :1:40.69.
With the pace slowing further approaching the final turn, Sanagas went for an early run, quickly surging past the leaders to take command by two lengths at the quarter pole. Ashtar chased him through the turn but was all in as Sanagas smoothly extended his advantage to 4 1/2 lengths at mid-stretch.
"My horse got into a nice flow right away and was just pulling me around the track," said the 26-year-old Maragh, a New York-based rider who earned his first stakes win at Hollywood.
"I was always in a good position without having to ask him," he added. "He made my job very easy. (Ashtar) moved on my outside and that kind of triggered him to go. It was a little earlier than I wanted initially, but he really wanted to go and I didn’t want to dishearten him. He always runs big and we’ve always had high hopes for him.”
Bourbon Bay, sixth at the quarter pole, rallied on the far outside and was cutting into the lead in the final furlong. But he was never a threat to the winner while holding off Falcon Rock, ridden by David Flores, by one length for second.
"The winner cut on the turn and I just couldn’t keep pace," Gomez said of Bourbon Bay. "He kept trying and kept digging. I got shuffled a little on the backstretch, but I liked where I was. I was straight in behind the horses I thought I had to beat, I just couldn’t quicken with the winner."
Ashtar was fourth, followed by Norvsky, Miss Match, and Goldwaki.
Bred by Stiftung Gestut Fahrhof, Sanagas is out of the German mare Scota, by the Irish stallion Marju. Prior to his transfer to the U.S. this spring, the late-starting Sanagas won four of five starts with one second over the past two seasons in his native land, where he was trained by Peter Schiergen.
He had a rough trip in his American debut, finishing seventh in the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) in July, before rebounding with a 2 1/4-length victory in Saratoga's John's Call Stakes at 13 furlongs Aug. 5. After a fourth-place finish in the Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park, in which he was 1 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Grassy, Sanagas showed his versatility with a half-length Polytrack win in the Sycamore.
Sanagas' lifetime mark stands at seven wins in 10 starts with earnings of $282,282.
The 8-5 choice carried 126 pounds and paid $5.20, $3.20, $2.60. Second choice Bourbon Bay returned $3.20 and $2.80 and the pair combined for a $15.40 exacta. Irish-bred Falcon Rock, losing for the 13th consecutive time, was $4.60 to show.