Sky Jack, en route to victory in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap.

Sky Jack, en route to victory in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap.

Benoit & Associates

Sky Jack Romps in Mervyn Leroy

Sky Jack utilized a front-running trip under Laffit Pincay Jr. to win Sunday's $150,000 Mervyn Leroy Handicap (gr. II) by 5 1/2 lengths over Bosque Redondo at Hollywood Park. The 6-year-old gelded son of Jaklin Klugman completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.36 on a fast track.

Bosque Redondo finished two lengths ahead of Devine Wind, with Bay Head King another three lengths back in fourth. Last Parade and Agol Lack completed the order of finish.

Sky Jack completed his 4-year-old season with two straight wins, taking the California Cup Classic and Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) in succession. Then after 13 months off he finished a nose behind Reba's Gold in an allowance race at Santa Anita in February. The gray gelding finished last of 14 in the Santa Anita Handicap next time out, checking home 43 3/4 lengths behind Milwaukee Brew.

"This horse ran a tremendous race," Pincay said. "He finished really strong and I think he is back. At Santa Anita the first time back he got beat a nose. Then he ran in the Santa Anita Handicap, a very tough race for him in his second start back. This horse can really run. Last year, if he didn't get hurt, I think he would have been the best horse in the country. I'm glad he is back."

The 3-2 favorite, Sky Jack paid $5, $2.80, and $2.60 and topped the $1 exacta worth $5.70. Bosque Redondo paid $2.80 and $2.40. Devine Wind was worth $3.40 to show.

Owned and bred by Rene and Margie Lambert's Ren-Mar Thoroughbreds, Sky Jack is trained by Doug O'Neill. The California-bred earned $90,000 for the win, his seventh in 13 career starts.

"I really hoped he would win today, but I didn't think he would win that impressively," O'Neill said. "I just ran him back too quickly (Santa Anita Handicap). I gave him plenty of time for this race. I think The Californian is going to be too soon. With the Hollywood Gold Cup two months away, that would be just about the right amount of time." (Chart, Equibase)