congratulations, Sakima!

Sakima (Queen of Kills, by Unbridled’s Song) had raced once before today.  On November 30, the closing day of Churchill’s November meet, the three-year-old colt finished a late-advancing fifth in a six and a half furlong maiden special weight.  He ran like a horse who needed a bit more experience and a bit more distance, and the pedigree suggested it as well.  Curlin’s own love of distance makes up only part of that story.  His only other sibling to race so far, a Giant’s Causeway filly named Queen’s Parade, won at 1 3/16 miles.  Queen of Kills never won in four starts, but her dam Tomisue’s Delight ran second in the 1997 Kentucky Oaks, and was a Grade I winner at a mile and a quarter.

Sakima needed distance, something he got a bit more of today.

Sakima returned in a one-mile maiden special weight over the Oaklawn dirt today.  He was happy to settle midpack early.  Lawless West, on the other hand, broke like a shot to his outside.  The front-end was a three-way battle early: Lawless West, Liberty First, and Rag’s Boy.  Sakima went through the clubhouse turn in the three path, and settled about three lengths off the pace down the backstretch.  Rag’s Boy began to drop back, but Lawless West and Liberty First continued to lead the pack past the half-mile mark.

Sakima picked it up coming into the far turn, and advanced on the leading pair.  By the halfway point of the far turn Liberty First had dropped out of it — and Sakima had reached Lawless West’s flank.  By the time the field turned for home, the pair was head and head.  The two fought in tandem down the stretch, with Lawless West drifting out and bumping Sakima despite a right-handed whip.  Lawless West edged away to cross the wire a half-length in front, though Sakima managed to keep enough momentum to keep his nose in front of Royal Marine, who had been soldiering in along the rail.

Once the runners past the finish line, the inquiry light came on.  The stewards chose to take a look at the stretch run.  Furthermore, Sakima’s rider Ramon Vazquez also lodged an objection against Lawless West and Israel Ocampo.  On side view the bumping looked like very little, but head-on told the story.  There was a bit of bumping past the furlong pole, but inside the sixteenth pole it escalated.  Lawless West drifted about four paths out, taking Sakima right out with him.  The review took time, but the stewards decided that Lawless West’s bumping and pushing cost Sakima a better placing.  They disqualified Lawless West to second, placing Sakima first.

As his pedigree would suggest, two turns suited Sakima more than one did.  A bit more age and experience likely helped him along, too.  He will move on to face winners next out, hopefully going at least as long as he did today.  Sakima is growing into himself, and it will be exciting to see what this colt can do next.

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