By Tom LaMarra
Ms Locust Point, a graded stakes winner for Cash is King and James Reichenberg, will look to get back on track in the $100,000 Skipat Stakes, which will kick off the 2018 MATCH Series May 18 at Pimlico Race Course.
The Skipat, for fillies and mares at six furlongs, attracted a field of eight. It’s the fifth race on the 14-race Black-Eyed Susan Day program.
Ms Locust Point, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Dialed In, has won six of nine starts for trainer John Servis, including the grade II Barbara Fritchie Stakes at Laurel Park in February. That effort led Servis to try the filly in the grade I Madison Stakes at Keeneland in April, but she broke last in a 10-horse field and was taken out of her game.
Ms Locust Point, who is based at Parx Racing, finished eighth in the Madison after struggling to overcome the start.
“We went out there and tackled grade I horses,” Servis said. “She didn’t break good, and once that happens you’re just asking for trouble. Then she made up about six lengths into a wicked pace. She just came up a little empty.
“She’s doing good now, and I’m just looking for a spot to get her back in the winner’s circle.”
Ms Locust Point, who likes to ramble on the lead, has four wins in five starts at six furlongs; the only loss at the distance was a second-place finish in her career debut as a 2-year-old. Jorge Vargas Jr., who has ridden the filly in seven of her races, has the return call.
J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Vertical Oak, a 4-year-old Giant Oak filly who won the grade III Miss Preakness Stakes last year at Pimlico, finished third in the Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in April in her first start of 2018. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Vertical Oak last year won the grade II Prioress Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
Ricardo Santana Jr. has a return call aboard Vertical Oak, who is 5-for-11 at the distance.
The Skipat Stakes, one of five races in the Filly & Mare Sprint–Dirt Division of the MATCH Series, is named for the Connecticut-bred mare who won 26 of 45 starts from 1977 to 1981 and won multiple stakes at tracks in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. She won the graded Barbara Fritchie Handicap, then held at Bowie Race Course, twice in her career.
By Tom LaMarra
J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Vertical Oak ran her record to two-for-two at Pimlico Race Course May 18 with an impressive victory in the $100,000 Skipat Stakes, the first of 25 races in the 2018 MATCH Series.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Vertical Oak last year won the grade III Miss Preakness Stakes, a six-furlong event for 3-year-old fillies at Pimlico, by 3 3/4 lengths. In the Skipat, for fillies and mares at six furlongs, her winning margin was 1 1/2 lengths on a track rated sloppy.
“She’s a nice filly,” Asmussen said of the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly Giant Oak. “The draw was great for her and so was the result. She won the Miss Preakness here last year and this was the target. We hope she has a very good year. And now she’ll likely head to New York.”
The field for the Skipat was reduced from eight to five because of scratches on a very wet afternoon at Pimlico. Vertical Oak broke from the outside post and sat just off Ms Locust Point through a half-mile, moved to challenge for and take the lead in the stretch, and hold off a rallying Startwithsilver. Ms Locust Point, who shared favoritism with Vertical Oak, held for third.
Vertical Oak, now a six-time winner in 15 starts, paid $4.60 to win and covered the distance in a solid 1:10.35.
“I had a pretty good trip,” winning rider Ricardo Santana Jr. said. “She did everything right and responded when I asked her. I had won on her before (at Saratoga Race Course and Churchill Downs), but this is my first stakes win with her. She’s a nice filly.”
Vertical Oak earned 10 MATCH Series points in the Filly & Mare Sprint–Dirt Division for her victory. Startwithsilver collected 7 points, followed by Ms Locust Point (5), Toby Girl (3) and Luckyallmylife (2). The next race in the division is the $75,000 Regret Stakes at Monmouth Park June 17.