Switch wins A Gleam to earn Breeders' Cup berth
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) - Switch rallied in the stretch to win the $200,000 A Gleam Handicap by 13/4 lengths and earn a berth in the Breeders' Cup, giving trainer John Sadler a sweep of the three graded stakes on Saturday's card at Betfair Hollywood Park.
One race earlier, Lady of Shamrock found an opening along the rail and drove through to win the $350,000 American Oaks by 11/4 lengths for Sadler. His other victory came in the $150,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship with Scherer Magic.
"It's been a rough season for me with my (graded stakes) horses. We ended up strong, so that's really good," Sadler said. "There were a lot of Saturdays through the middle of the meet where we were second or third, and we're supposed to be winning those races."
In the Grade 2 A Gleam, Switch ran seven furlongs on the synthetic Cushion Track in 1:24.37 under Garrett Gomez to end a 17-month drought. She paid $6.60, $3.80 and $2.60 as the 2-1 favorite and earned a spot in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita with the entry fee to be paid by the Breeders' Cup. Switch has been runner-up in that race the last two years.
"I think that's tremendous," Sadler said. "You save a lot of money on entry fees and you take the pressure off. She's been a very good horse for us."
Switch lost her two previous starts this year, finishing fifth in the Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs and fourth in the Desert Stormer at Hollywood. It was a rare sub-par outing at her home track, where she has now finished first or second in six of seven starts.
Sugarinthemorning returned $6.80 and $4, while Glamorista, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, was another 21/4 lengths back in third and paid $4.80 to show. Baffert's other entry, American Lady, was fourth in the field of seven.
In the American Oaks, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith waited patiently for the opening on the rail and Lady of Shamrock got through after bumping with Best Present Ever in the stretch to win by 11/4 lengths.
Lady of Shamrock ran 11/4 miles on the turf in 2:03.19 and paid $5, $3 and $2.20 as the 8-5 favorite. My Gi Gi returned $5.60 and $3.40, while Best Present Ever was another 11/2 lengths back in third and paid $4.20 to show.
"I think clearly she's the best 3-year-old filly in the country," Sadler said. "In turf racing you need to catch a break, you need to find a lane and she did. She has a real good turn of foot."
Lady of Shamrock was last early in the Grade 1 race, then moved up gradually on the backstretch while biding her time before her winning move along the rail. It was similar to how Smith lost the Belmont Stakes aboard Bodemeister last month. He was leading in the stretch when Union Rags and John Velazquez found room along the rail and nailed Smith and Bodemeister late.
"She was a little timid in there, but she got through," Smith said. "She's really something."
In the $150,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship, Scherer Magic won by 21/2 lengths.
Scherer Magic ran six furlongs in 1:11.67 and paid $8.20, $4.60 and $7 as the 3-1 second choice in the Grade 3 race.
Sadler claimed the Iowa-bred gelding for $50,000 on June 14 on behalf of owners Gary and Cecil Barber after winning a shake between five other interested parties. He's now 2 for 2 in his young career after winning his first race by 71/4 lengths.
"You have to have some guts to claim an Iowa-bred," Sadler said. "You have to be lucky too. I might want to make him eligible to the Breeders' (Cup) Juvenile Sprint. It closes tomorrow and it's a big price reduction if you nominate him early."
Carson's Crown, also trained by Sadler, returned $7.80 and $14.40, while Just Call Me Al was another 13/4 lengths back in third and paid $25 to show.
Amarish, the 2-5 favorite, faded to sixth in the field of seven 2-year-olds after leading by a head in the early going. He had won his first two career starts by a combined 121/4 lengths.
"He got to the quarter pole, took a couple of deep breaths and shut it down," trainer Jeff Bonde said, adding that he would have Amarish checked out for any problems.
Executiveprivilege won the $150,000 Landaluce Stakes by 31/4 lengths, prompting Baffert to compare the filly to 2010 Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Executiveprivilege ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.49 and paid $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10 as the 3-10 favorite. The 2-year-old bay filly is owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, the same trio who owned Lookin At Lucky. That colt had a famously bad trip in the 2010 Kentucky Derby and finished sixth, then won the Preakness and earned the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old.
"I just think she's really gifted," said Baffert, who won the Landaluce for the third time. "From day one when we breezed her, I remember calling Mike and saying, 'I think we have a female version of Lookin at Lucky.'"
Speedinthruthecity returned $4 and $3, while Miss Empire was another 11/4 lengths back in third and paid $2.60 to show. Both are trained by Peter Miller.
The top three fillies are on schedule to renew their rivalry in the $150,000 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 8.
But Baffert has a bigger goal in mind. He'd like to send Executiveprivilege to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
She won her career debut on June 28 by 41/2 lengths, and Baffert decided to run her just 16 days later rather than wait until going to Del Mar.
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