Louis Quatorze, Skip Away are best of the 3-year-olds Preakness leaders headed for showdown in Travers

August 05, 1996|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Louis Quatorze and Skip Away, one-two finishers in the Preakness, established themselves yesterday as the country's top 3-year-olds, winning races in two states with determined stretch rallies.

Here at historic Saratoga Race Course, Louis Quatorze out-battled Will's Way in a prolonged stretch duel to win the $150,000 Jim Dandy Stakes. Twenty-five minutes later at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, Skip Away overcame a wide and adventurous trip to capture the $750,000 Haskell Invitational Handicap.

The races were 1 1/8-mile semifinal heats in what could be called August's showdown of Triple Crown survivors. The finals will be Aug. 24 at Saratoga in the $750,000 Travers Stakes, the unofficial fourth leg of the Triple Crown. In the 1 1/4-mile Travers, Louis Quatorze or Skip Away could wrap up this year's 3-year-old championship.

"I think I have the best 3-year-old right now," said Nick Zito, trainer of Louis Quatorze. "Now he has to prove it again in the Travers."

At Monmouth, Skip Away's trainer Sonny Hine said the race did (( not go as planned, with Skip Away parked wide and forced to run longer and harder than Hine wanted.

"I feel good for the horse and my wife," Hine said. "He'll be much tougher next time."

Hine trains the horse for his wife Carolyn, a native of Highlandtown. Despite extreme outside post positions in each of the Triple Crown races, Skip Away finished second in the Preakness and Belmont.

A former trainer in Maryland for nearly three decades, Hine matched Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Croll's record of three Haskell winners. Hine's others were Technology and Skip Trial, the sire of Skip Away.

Skip Away and Louis Quatorze were the bettors' choices. Skip Away paid $3.20 to win and Louis Quatorze returned $6.20.

D. Wayne Lukas, who began the year with a herd of potential 3-year-old champions, entered four in yesterday's two races. Dr. Caton, forced out of the Triple Crown series by medical problems, performed most impressively, finishing a length behind Skip Away in the Haskell. Lukas' Victory Speech was another length back in third.

In the Jim Dandy, Lukas' better-known pair fared poorly. Editor's Note, winner of the Belmont Stakes, finished fourth. Prince of Thieves, looking more and more like a mediocre racer, ran fifth.

Editor's Note requires a fast early pace, setting up his usual late run.

"He was feeling great today, the same way as the day of the Belmont," said his jockey, Rene Douglas. "The difference was the track -- he was not getting hold of it -- and the lack of pace. I was in a beautiful spot the whole way. I just couldn't get to the leaders."

Making only his fifth start because of a pulled muscle, Will's Way matched Louis Quatorze stride-for-stride until a few yards in front of the wire. Louis Quatorze prevailed by a neck, and Will's Way finished 15 lengths in front of third-place runner Secreto de Estado.

Louis Quatorze's 1 1/8-mile time of 1 minute 47 1/5 seconds broke the stakes record but fell one-fifth second short of the track record, set by Tri Jet in 1974.

Maria's Mon, last year's champion 2-year-old despite breaking a cannon bone in the fall, finished sixth in the Jim Dandy.

"It looked like he just quit running," said his trainer, Rick Schosberg. "We'll scope him in about an hour and evaluate him. Maybe he bled."

Pub Date: 8/05/96

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