ELMONT, N.Y. – Owner Daniel Alonso and trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. have had a short but successful partnership, achieving top-level success with the Brazilian-bred pair of stakes-winner Wind of Change and graded stakes placed Novo Sol together within their first year of business.
But 3-year-old Kentucky-bred Skippylongstocking provides the most promise of any runner the two have campaigned as he looks to give both Joseph, Jr. and Alonso their first win in an American classic in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets at Belmont Park.
Skippylongstocking, a son of 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator, was purchased by Alonso for $37,000 out of the Top Line Sales consignment at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training where he breezed one eighth of a mile in 10 and 2/5 seconds.
“We first teamed up last year and he picked out Skippy at the sale,” Joseph, Jr. said. “He normally brings his horses from Brazil. We’ve had some success together and hopefully it continues.”
Skippylongstocking’s Belmont work. Click on link to see video. Part 1. https://pastthewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Skippylongstocking-Belmont-6-4-2022.mov
Part 2. https://pastthewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Skippylongstocking-Belmont-6-4-2022.-2mov.mov
The bay colt brings the most experienced resume to the Belmont Stakes field with 10 lifetime starts. He was a dominant 10 1/2-length winner at third asking in a one-mile maiden in September at Gulfstream Park and finished off-the-board in his first two stakes outings in the Street Sense [4th] and Mucho Macho Man [6th].
Skippylongstocking won a nine-furlong optional claimer in March at Gulfstream in his start prior to his graded stakes debut in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial on April 9 at Aqueduct Racetrack. He ran a good third 3 3/4 lengths behind returning rival Mo Donegal and subsequent Preakness victor Early Voting.
In his most recent outing, Skippylongstocking finished an even fifth in the Grade 1 Preakness behind Early Voting after going four-wide and finding his best stride late under Junior Alvarado.
“He’s definitely gotten a little better,” Joseph, Jr. said of the colt’s progression. “He’s still a notch below these kinds of horses, but he’s talented and he’s improved in each race quite a bit. We need one more big jump and that puts him in with a chance.”
Skippylongstocking, like his seven rivals in the “Test of the Champion,” will be racing the farthest distance of his career, something Joseph, Jr. said he is hopeful won’t be too tall of a task.
“A mile and a half will always be a question until they do it. We like to believe that he could with the way his running style is, but it’s a big stretch from nine and a half [furlongs] to a mile and a half,” said Joseph, Jr. “He’ll have to prove it, but we’re running him to give him a chance to find out.”
Joseph Jr. has earned four Grade 1 wins with Math Wizard providing him his first in the 2019 Pennsylvania Derby and White Abarrio delivering his latest in this year’s Florida Derby. Joseph, Jr. said a win in the Belmont Stakes would be significant.
“It would mean a lot,” said Joseph, Jr. “It’s a classic and the final leg of the Triple Crown. It’s a race that means a lot to any trainer.”
NYRA Press Office
Photo Skippylongstocking in a Belmont work (Janet Garaguso)