Skelly never headed in the Count Fleet (Coady Photography)
Oaklawn Park Press Release
HOT SPRINGS, Ark.— Red Lane Thoroughbred LLC’s Skelly led gate to wire to give Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen his 100th stakes win at Oaklawn as well has his fifth victory in Saturday’s $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint (G3). The win was also Asmussen’s third win of the day and moved him within five wins of becoming Oaklawn’s all-time leading trainer.
Ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., Skelly broke the sharpest in the field of 10 from post position two and quickly assumed the lead through early fractions of :21 2/5 and :44 2/5 for the first half mile. He entered the stretch with a four-length lead and was able to cruise home to a 2 ¼ length victory over the fast closing Strobe, the 5-2 second choice, who had a wide trip. Whitmore Stakes (G3) winner Tejano Twist, the 9-5 favorite, rallied from eighth over the speed favoring track to get third. The final time was 1:09 1/5 over a fast track.
Skelly, a 4-year-old Practical Joke gelding, was winning for third straight time and fourth time overall in eight career starts and has now earned $549,400. He returned $14, $6.40 and $4 at odds of 6-1.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a 12:30 p.m. first post. Next Saturday features the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) as well as the $200,000 Bath House Row and the $150,000 Valley of the Vapors Stakes.
Winning trainer Steve Asmussen, Skelly: “That is exactly what happened (taking advantage of speed-favoring track). The elation of that goes to the concern of Clairiere (in the upcoming Apple Blossom) and her lack of pace. He’s definitely the quickest half-mile of the group (Asmussen had three Count Fleet entrants) and showed it today. The racetrack’s playing for that to be effective.”