Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates
By Jack Shinar, Blood-Horse
In what was a pivotal race for her, favored Switch rallied in deep stretch on the outside to capture the $200,000 A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) at Betfair Hollywood Park July 14.
Switch's A Gleam victory gave trainer John Sadler a sweep of the three graded stakes on the penultimate card of the 2012 spring/summer meet at Hollywood. He earlier won the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) with Scherer Magic and the American Oaks (gr. IT) with Lady of Shamrock.
The win also guarantees the 5-year-old Switch an all-expenses paid starting berth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) as this year's A Gleam is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series. Switch finished second in both the 2010 and 2011 renewals of the race at Churchill Downs. This year's race is Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park, where the daughter of Quiet American has won a couple of grade I races already.
After a pair of lackluster efforts to begin the year, many were questioning whether Switch still was on top of her game. Even Sadler, while expressing confidence in her, conceded that the bay mare needed a big effort if she was to return to the Breeders' Cup World Championships in the fall. While she had been competitive, Switch had lost eight straight races over a 17-month span since taking the Santa Monica Stakes (gr. I) in January 2011.
With Garrett Gomez aboard, a big effort is exactly what Switch provided in the seven-furlong A Gleam, which she won in a time of 1:24.37 over the Cushion Track.
“It’s been a rough season for me with my (graded stakes) horses," Sadler said. "We ended up strong, so that’s really good. There were a lot of Saturdays through the middle of the meet here where we were second or third, and we’re supposed to be winning those races. I’m very relieved and happy, and we’ll keep working. That’s our program."
witch, owned by Lee and Susan Searing's C R K Stables, began the year with a fifth-place finish in the Humana Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill Downs May 5, finishing nearly 16 lengths behind the track record-breaking Groupie Doll. In her return June 17, Switch ran evenly for fourth in the Desert Stormer Handicap.
"We knew with Switch, she wasn’t real sharp in her first race and I thought she needed her last race, so it moved her forward for this one. It’s all a process," Sadler said. "The owners brought her back this year just to try her again in the Breeders’ Cup. She’s been second the last two years. Now we get a Breeders’ Cup at home. I love the ‘Win and You’re In.’ I think that’s tremendous. You save a lot of money on entry fees and you take the pressure off. She’s been a very good horse for us."
Calumet Farm bred Switch in Kentucky. She is out of Antoniette, by Nicholas.
Switch, crowded early, raced at the rear of the seven-horse A Gleam field for a half-mile. A good pace unfolded thanks to Izzy Rules, who raced along the inside while pressured by American Lady and Sugarinthemorning while carving swift splits of :22.21 and :45.07. Switch angled a bit to the outside rounding the turn and launched her bid four wide for Gomez.
The leaders were four across the track in the homestretch as Izzy Rules, American Lady, Teddy's Promise, and Sugarinthemorning battled. Sugarinthemorning, ridden by Martin Garcia, put her head in front near the furlong mark but drifted in a bit as Switch rallied powerfully under urging from Gomez. Switch got the lead in deep stretch and pulled away in the final strides for victory.
"It kind of set up for her today," Gomez said. "Things kind of worked out, but she was traveling very well. I had some difficulty on the turn with her, a little miscommunication, but once I got her lined up turning for home, she did what she was supposed to do and her class just showed."
Sugarinthemorning was second best by 2 1/4 lengths over Glamorista, who surged from sixth to get the show spot under Chantal Sutherland.
Switch improved her lifetime record to 6-7-4 in 21 races as her bankroll swelled to $1,362,562.
Under top weight of 122 pounds, Switch returned $6.60, $3.80, and $2.60. She keyed a $52.80 exacta. Sugarinthemorning, looking to give 80-year-old Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally an important victory, paid $6.80 and $4. The show price on Glamorista, one of two in the field for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, was $4.80.
Baffert's other entrant, American Lady was fourth, followed by grade I winner Teddy's Promise, Izzy Rules, and Mildly Offensive. Moonstruck Maya scratched.
For an Equibase chart, click here.