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Sabiango Delivers Winning Message In Whittingham

June 12, 2004
Hollywood Park Press Release

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Monty Roberts - widely known as "The Horse Whisperer"- doesn't bet, but one of the biggest gambles of his life paid off Saturday as Tyler Baze rode Sabiango to a 13-1 upset victory in the $350,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Sabiango's victory - the richest of Roberts' life and the first in a Grade I race at Hollywood Park for 21-year-old Baze - came in his Southern California debut following a six-month layoff.

The 6-year-old German-bred sped to the early lead and was never headed, covering the 1 1/4 miles on the Lakeside Turf Course in 2:01.52. Irish-bred Bayamo finished three-quarters of a length back under David Flores, followed by Just Wonder. Continuously, the 7-2 favorite, finished sixth in the field of 11 older horses.

"Have you ever had a kid graduate Phi Beta Kappa?" Roberts asked. "That's what it means. These are my kids. This horse has had so much trouble in his life and he really never had the chance that he needed."

Roberts, a longtime consultant to German owner Gestut Fahrhof, first saw Sabiango in Germany when he was 20 months old. He has loved him ever since. Roberts tried to convince Fahrhof to base Sabiango in the U.S. full-time, but failed. He then arranged to lease the horse and had him shipped to Bob Baffert's Hollywood Park barn in January after he had finished 14th - beaten 17 lengths - in the Hong Kong Vase last December.

"I took this one all by myself and suppose I have $50,000 or $60,000 invested up to now," Roberts said. "I really had no guarantees that this horse would ever be in the money over here, so I stuck my neck out along the way. We won a lot of Grade I races before they graded them. We won the Sunset here with Petrone (1969), but not where I got every dollar of the purse, I can promise you that. Normally I'm representing somebody else with maybe a little piece of the action."

Sabiango, who paid $28.80, 14.60 and $12, banked $210,000 Saturday, boosted his career earnings to $704,333. "I thought I'd be laying second around there, but he relaxed so well and nobody really sent," Baze said. "The horse is just awesome, the way he accelerated around the turn. The way he took off I have not had that feeling in a long time. Just the joy, I was overwhelmed. I almost wanted to cry."

Baffert's credited the victory to his assistant Tim Yakteen, a longtime assistant of Whittingham, the master at bringing horses off long layoffs to win major races.

"Charlie Whittingham finally rubbed off on Tim," Baffert chuckled. "I've been waiting for it to come out of him. But I've really got to give him credit because he's the one that got him ready.

"I'm just glad that Monty let us work with this horse, and to be associated with the original Horse Whisperer." Bayamo returned $9.20 and $6.60, while Just Wonder paid $8.80 to show.

Even The Score, meanwhile, posted a 3 1/2-length victory under Flores in the $250,000 Californian to establish himself as a leading contender for the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 10. The win was the second straight for the Vladimir Cerin-trained gelding, who paid $3.80 as the odds-on favorite. Total Impact finished second in the Grade II event and Nose The Trade was third.

"He came back, he trained super he showed he's for real," Cerin said. "It's a little tougher race, he had to go wide and he overcame the obstacles that he had to to show he's a good horse."

Odds on favorite House of Fortune was a three-length winner under Alex Solis in the day's third stake - the $182,875 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks. The victory was one of four for Solis on the program. Elusiva Diva, second with Baze up, headed House of Fortune on the far turn, but could not match strides with her through the lane.

"This is a filly that when she gets to her right lead, she is very strong," Solis said. "The other filly (Elusive Diva) moved very strong around the turn. But when my filly saw her, she took off. She has done that in the past where she switches leads back to the right foot, and takes off. Well, she did it again. I figured she would do that. She always does. She is such a warrior."

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