SKY KINGDOM LOOMS LARGE IN GRADE II SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO SUNDAY, TRADITIONAL CLOSING DAY FEATURE AT 1 ¾ MILES ON TURF ATTRACTS SEVEN

by dolsen 1 year ago
April 18, 2013

ARCADIA, Calif. (April 18, 2013)—Trainer Bob Baffert is hoping his Sky Kingdom thinks the grass is greener on the other side of the rail. A handy winner of the Grade III Tokyo City Cup going 1 ½ miles on dirt March 23, Sky Kingdom will try turf for the first time on Sunday as he joins six other horses in Santa Anita’s traditional closing day feature, the Grade II, $150,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at 1 ¾ miles on turf—a distance that none of the seven runners have ever attempted.

A 4-year-old colt by Empire Maker, Sky Kingdom pressed the pace in the Tokyo City, assumed command going to the quarter pole and went on to an authoritative 3 ¾ length victory under Martin Garcia—while earning a San Juan Capistrano best last-out Beyer Speed figure of 104.

“He looked great today,” said Baffert following the Tokyo City. “The only spot to run him was a mile and a half. I didn’t know if he could do it…it’s pretty exciting.”

Owned by Westrock Stables LLC, Sky Kingdom had never been beyond 1 1/16 miles prior to the Tokyo City. As he was on dirt, he figures to lay close to the pace in the San Juan Capistrano. Sky Kingdom has earnings of $233,730 from a career mark of 9-4-0-1.

Trainer Ron McAnally, who won his first of two San Juan Capistrano’s in 1980 with the legendary John Henry, will send out Argentine-bred Interaction, who comes off a disappointing fourth as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade II, 1 ½ miles San Luis Rey Stakes on March 16. Prior to that, the 7-year-old horse made a big run from off the pace but was second, beaten a length, as the 7-2 favorite in the Grade II, 1 ¼ miles San Marcos Stakes.

A multiple Group I winner in Argentina, Interaction was second in the Grade I Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar Aug. 25. He’ll be reunited on Sunday with Joe Talamo, who rode him to second place finishes in both the San Marcos and the Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup on Dec. 15.

Owned by Pozo de Luna Inc., Interaction is in search of his first win since June 16, 2012, a classified allowance score at Betfair Hollywood Park going 1 1/8 miles on turf. His overall mark stands at 22-6-5-2, and he has earnings of $624,463.

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