Skippylongstocking Seeks G1 Win in Stephen Foster

June 26, 2024

Skippylongstocking ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

David Joseph/Gulfstream Park

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.— Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking has been a work in progress for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., who has kept the faith in the son of Exaggerator while trying to figure out just how to bring out the very best in him.

Saturday, Skippylongstocking will seek his first Grade 1 stakes victory in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs after preparing for his bid for a sixth graded-stakes score at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training center in Palm Beach County.

“He’s trained well for the race,” said Joseph, the leading trainer at Gulfstream Park’s Royal Palm Meet. “If he runs as well as he did at Oaklawn last time, he’s going to be very tough.”

The multiple Grade 1 stakes-placed Skippylongstocking closely attended the pacesetter before drawing away to a two-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 20.

“He showed talent before he ever ran and he won his maiden quite nicely. From then on, it was like we were in trouble. He wasn’t running well. We actually were thinking of cutting him back in distance, and then Junior Alvarado rode him in a one-turn mile and said, ‘Run him longer, two turns,’” Joseph said. “I think that is what turned him around. He doesn’t want to be hustled. He shows speed but he doesn’t want to be hustled. He’s gotten better and better, and last time he took it to another level.”

Skippylongstocking, who is rated second at 5-2 on the Foster morning line, drew Post 9 in a field of nine, including Brad Cox-trained First Mission, the 6-5 morning-line favorite who won the Alysheba by four lengths at Churchill last time out.

“I don’t think ‘9’ is too far out. As long as he breaks well, he should put himself in a good spot,” Joseph said.

Jose Ortiz has the return mount aboard Skippylongstocking.

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