Sadler won three stakes on the Hollywood Gold Cup card June 28 and enjoyed a trio of grade II wins during the weekend.
Leading up to the 1 1/4-mile Beverly Hills, Sadler admitted his frustration at Black Mamba's losing streak, which included five runner-up finishes and two third-place showings in the seven races, all but one of them in grade I or II heats. His answer was to employ the services of top national rider Garrett Gomez, who kept the 5-year-old New Zealand mare out of trouble and in the clear on the outside for the home stretch.
The result proved to be the trouble-prone Black Mamba's first graded stakes victory and just her third win overall in 19 starts.
“We wanted to have a good clean trip,” Sadler said. “She had a lot of trouble in the last one (the Santa Barbara Handicap), so we were more concerned that she got a smooth trip today. I told Garrett that she’s very steady and not hard to ride. She’s the kind of horse Garrett likes to ride because she drops the bit, you cover her up, and she’s not a hard puller which is key for a long distance race. “
The winner defeated 12-1 shot Solva by 1 1/4 lengths, with Green Lyons edging pacesetter Forest Melody for third. The winning time was 2:01.25.
Black Mamba, breaking from the rail in a field of 10 fillies and mares, was reserved early as Forest Melody set off on a comfortable clip of :24.49 for the opening quarter mile, :48.73 for the half and 1:13.22 for six panels. Double Trouble and Solva chased.
Gomez, about seven lengths back on the backstretch, angled Black Mamba to the outside on the far turn and she was five paths wide and gaining as they came into the stretch. Under frantic shaking of the reins by Gomez, Black Mamba responded, splitting horses in upper stretch to range into contention. A couple of left-handed cracks of the whip helped Black Mamba edge past Solva and Forest Melody leaving the furlong pole and she won driving.
"John and I do a lot of business together. It's a pleasure to stay an extra day and ride this nice mare," said Gomez, in town to ride the Gold Cup program. "I wanted to make sure I didn't get caught down on the inside and I was able to do so. When I needed her, she was there for me. She kicked in and you know she really stays on well."
Solva, ridden by Aaron Gryer, was a clear second by 1 1/2 lengths, with Green Lyons and Joel Rosario along late for the show spot.
In her last start April 19, Black Mamba was nosed by Beverly Hills rival Foxysox in the 1 1/4-mile Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) after being blocked for much of the stretch run. This time, Foxysox, the 118-pound high weight, was moving with the winner circling the far turn but Foxysox flattened out.
Owned by Double Down Stables, Black Mamba, a daughter of Black Minnaloushe--Sneetch (by Grosvenor), bumped her career earnings to $359,171. Kelturn Stud of New Zealand bred the bay, who has not been worse than third in the U.S.
Black Mamba carried 117 pounds to victory and paid $4.80, $2.80 and $2.40. Solva returned $9.60 and $7.20 to complete a $2 exacta worth $48.20 with the solid favorite. Green Lyons ($7 to show), trained by Neil Drysdale, rounded out a $2 trifecta of $423.80.
Forest Melody was a head back in fourth, followed by Marzelline, Foxysox, I Can See, Double Trouble, Island Hop and Gotta Have Her.
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