Skip Away refuses to take a vacation

On Horse Racing

January 11, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Carolyn and Sonny Hine sent Skip Away to Florida for a vacation after his explosive win in the Breeders' Cup Classic. But Skip Away wouldn't lie on the beach and rest.

"He wouldn't settle for a day off," said Sonny Hine, trainer of the two-time Eclipse Award winner. "We never took him out of training. We put a 165-pound exercise rider on him, and the rider runs three miles every morning to keep strong enough to gallop him."

On Thursday, the day he won an Eclipse Award as champion older horse (and Carolyn Hine won as outstanding owner), Skip Away breezed three furlongs in 37 2/5 seconds at Gulfstream Park. Jerry Bailey rode him.

"Jerry came back and said he was so strong he probably could have gone in 35," Hine said. "He doesn't look like he's missed a beat."

The Hines' first goal for Skip Away in 1998 is the $500,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap on Feb. 28. He might run first in the $300,000 Donn Handicap on Feb. 7 at Gulfstream, Sonny Hine said.

Their goal for the year is for Skip Away to surpass Cigar as the richest thoroughbred in history. Including his $2.3 million score in the Breeders' Cup Classic, Skip Away has earned $6,876,360. Cigar is tops with $9,999,815.

The Pimlico Special is on Skip Away's schedule again. Last year he finished second to Gentlemen.

According to the Daily Racing Form, Skip Away is the top-ranked horse in North America, followed by Silver Charm, Favorite Trick, Deputy Commander, Chief Bearhart, Free House, Ajina, Sharp Cat, Maxzene and Coronado's Quest.

Horsemen and marketing

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has pledged $500,000 over two years to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the new central office for marketing the sport.

The MTHA board of directors pledged the money last week after a passionate presentation by Alan M. Foreman, Baltimore lawyer and director of the NTRA.

Wayne Wright, executive secretary of the MTHA, said the board members believe the national marketing concept deserves a chance to succeed.

"For the long-term benefit of the racing industry, we have to do something for ourselves," Wright said. "Nobody's going to do it for us.

"Right now we're not even a blip on the screen. We've got to improve our image and marketing, nationally and locally. Otherwise we're just treading water while the world passes horse racing by."

One of the goals of the NTRA is to transform horse racing into one of the country's top five sports. The NTRA is trying to raise $25 million for its operating budget from racetracks, breeders, sales companies and horsemen.

"I wouldn't be surprised if there's not close to 100 percent support across the country for this," Wright said. "I believe we can't afford to let it fail."

Wanted: a trainer

When Patrick Byrne accepted the job as private trainer for the Canadian industrialist Frank Stronach, he agreed to give up Favorite Trick and Countess Diana, the champion male and female 2-year-olds of 1997.

Favorite Trick went to Bill Mott. But Richard Kaster, owner of Countess Diana, has not decided where to send the filly, whose roots grow deep in Maryland. She was sired, developed and broke her maiden here.

Kaster said Thursday he would begin interviewing trainers this week. Was there any chance -- any chance at all -- that Countess Diana would return to Maryland and her first trainer, Carlos Garcia?

No, Kaster said. Even though he has horses with Garcia at Laurel Park, he believes horses should be stabled where they run, and Countess Diana's schedule for 1998 consists of only Grade I and II stakes. The initial goal is the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs the day before the Derby.

Kaster is in no hurry to place the filly, 5-for-6 last year, because she has just returned to light training after undergoing surgery in December to have a small chip removed from her knee. Her first race probably won't come until early April, Kaster said.

Remember when

A good look back (courtesy of Thoroughbred Racing Communications): Jan. 11, 1950 -- Sidelined by injury since December 1948, 5-year-old Citation returned to racing at Santa Anita Park, winning at odds of 3-20 for his 16th straight victory.

vTC Jan. 13, 1978 -- Seattle Slew, training for his 4-year-old debut at Hialeah, displayed symptoms of the deadly virus Colitis X. He was sidelined until May 14, when he won an allowance race at Aqueduct.

Jan. 14, 1932 -- Jockey Eddie Arcaro rode his first winner, at Agua Caliente, Mexico.

Jan. 14, 1953 -- Pimlico's Preakness Stakes, originally slated for May 16, was pushed back to May 23, for the first time allowing a three-week layover after the Kentucky Derby.

Jan. 14, 1989 -- Jockey Kent Desormeaux scored his 1,000th win at Laurel aboard Eesee's Taw in the Francis Scott Key Handicap.

Jan. 15, 1969 -- Barbara Jo Rubin was named to ride in a race at Tropical Park. Thirteen male riders boycotted the race rather than compete against a female. They were fined $100 each.

Preakness rules

Another publication has selected the Preakness as the top race of 1997 -- and also ranked the Pimlico Special in the top five. According to the Daily Racing Form, here are the top 10:

No. Race, Winner

1. Preakness, Silver Charm

2. Kentucky Derby, Silver Charm

3. Belmont Stakes, Touch Gold

4. Br. Cup Classic, Skip Away

5. Pimlico Special, Gentlemen

6. Dubai World Cup, Singspiel

7. S. Anita Derby, Free House

8. S. Anita Handicap, Siphon

9. Travers, Deputy Commander

10. Champagne, Grand Slam

Pub Date: 1/11/98

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