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Skippylongstocking Much the Best in Oaklawn Handicap

Informed Patriot earns Preakness (G1) berth with Bathhouse Row Stakes score.

Skippylongstocking wins the Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park

Skippylongstocking wins the Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park

Coady Photo

Skippylongstocking once again took his show on the road and came out on top with a commanding score in the $1.25 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 20.

Although the venerable son of Exaggerator had competed at 12 different tracks during the course of his four seasons on the racetrack before April 20, Saturday would be Skippylongstocking's first appearance at Oaklawn Park. The 5-year-old didn't disappoint, landing the sixth graded stakes of his career with authority for owner Daniel Alonso. In victory, he also secured a guaranteed starting slot in the May 17 $250,000 Pimlico Special Stakes (G3) on Preakness Stakes (G1) weekend.

Lining up as the 5-2 favorite in a field of 11 older males, Skippylongstocking broke sharply and flanked his stablemate, the pacesetting County Final, through a :23.21. quarter-mile and :47.62 half-mile. Jose Ortiz nudged the bay along into the far turn and he glided into command with three furlongs left to run. Distancing himself from his rivals, Skippylongstocking held a three-length advantage at the quarter pole and cruised to the wire in front by two.

"He was happy to just track the other horse," Ortiz said of Skippylongstocking. "He was relaxed every step of the way so I was very happy and when I asked him to go he responded very well."

Godolphin's exceptionally bred Highland Falls, fourth last time out in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1), closed willingly for second but couldn't catch the winner.

Oaklawn veteran Red Route One, the co-second choice at 7-2 with Highland Falls, launched a belated rally from the back of the pack to get up for third.

Skippylongstocking stopped the timer in 1:49 for the 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track, completing his final eighth mile in a snappy :12.11. Carrying the high weight of 122 pounds, he returned $7.60 for a $2 win ticket.

With Skippylongstocking's Oaklawn victory, the $37,000 2021 Ocala Breeders' Spring 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale purchase pushed his bankroll past the $2 million mark in earnings. Among the trophies the horse has collected over the years are wins in the 2023 Charles Town Classic Stakes (G2), 2022 West Virginia Derby (G3), 2022 Harlan's Holiday Stakes (G3), and back-to-back editions of the Challenger Stakes (G3) (2023-24) at Tampa Bay Downs. He also finished third in the 2022 Belmont Stakes (G1) and the 2023 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

Skippylongstocking wins the Oaklawn Handicap on Saturday, April 20, 2024 at Oaklawn Park
Photo: Coady Photo
The connections of Skippylongstocking in the trophy presentation for the Oaklawn Handicap

The year didn't begin as smooth sailing for Skippylongstocking, who was pulled up in the final turn of January's Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) and didn't complete the race. Joseph had said after the race he believed the horse had overheated. Skippylongstocking rebounded, however, with a 2 1/2-length tally in the March 9 Challenger Stakes ahead of his Oaklawn bid.

Bred by Brushy Hill in Kentucky, Skippylongstocking is one of three stakes winners of three foals to race produced from the War Chant mare Twinkling. He is currently the leading earner for his sire, 2016 Preakness Stakes hero Exaggerator. Originally standing at WinStar Farm, Exaggerator was relocated to Elite Thoroughbreds in Folsom, La., after the 2021 breeding season. In addition to Skippylongstocking, another son of Exaggerator making recent headlines is Harry Veruchi's West Saratoga. A grade 3 winner of the Iroquois Stakes (G3) last year at 2, the colt punched his ticket to the Kentucky Derby (G1) with a runner-up placing in the March 23 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3). Exaggerator stands the 2024 breeding season for a fee of $5,000.

Video: Oaklawn H. (G2)

Asmussen Runners Finish 1-2 in Bathhouse row

Informed Patriot led a 1-2 finish for trainer Steve Asmussen when he fended off Imperial Gun to take the $200,000 Bathhouse Row Stakes.

Registering the first stakes win of his eight-start career, Informed Patriot earned an automatic berth to the May 18 Preakness Stakes in the Bathhouse Row. Last year, Asmussen-trained Red Route One scored in the Bathhouse Row before finishing fourth in the Preakness.

Campaigned by Kirk and Judy Robison, Informed Patriot ($8.80) stopped the timer in 1:51.48 for the 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track. Ricardo Santana Jr. piloted the son of Hard Spun , who hit the wire a head better than Imperial Gun with Gould's Gold completing the trifecta.

Video: Bathhouse Row S. (BT)