Trainers Bobby Frankel and Craig Dollase each sent out a pair of horses to run in Sunday's $500,000 Californian Stakes (gr. II) and then watched as their horses filled the top four finishing positions in the Hollywood Park race. Frankel's Skimming went wire-to-wire to win by a length over Dollase's Futural, with Frankel's Aptitude and Dollase's Jekyll and Hyde finishing third and fourth, respectively.
Skimming was alone on a comfortable lead early on while putting up moderate fractions. Skimming opened up by 1 1/2 lengths after six furlongs run in 1:10.46 and then held off Futural in the stretch to earn the win. Skimming completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.12 on a fast track under jockey Garrett Gomez.
"I thought the two-horse (Blade Prospector), coming out of the Met Mile, would go to the lead," Frankel said. "And I thought he'd collapse early, but I still thought he'd make the lead. I was surprised I made such an easy lead. I thought when I looked up I'd see :45 and change, but when I saw :46 and change I was pretty confident."
"He broke really good today, not like last time when he was coming off a layoff," Gomez said. "Bobby took him to the gate between this race and the last, and he showed it when he left there. He left on his toes, ready to do something today. He threw in a huge effort. When he was coming down the lane, he was kind of waiting on the others. Chris (McCarron, on Futural) kind of got to his tail, and that was as close as he could get."
McCarron thinks Skimming's ground-saving trip and the ground loss for Futural was the key to the race.
"He (Futural) ran hard. I couldn't have asked for any more effort from him," McCarron said. "One thing I could tell from my vantage point was that Skimming was getting to save all the ground and I was losing all the ground. I think -- well, I don't think, I know that made the difference. I'm not sure I would have run by Skimming. I might have. But I know the lost ground cost me more than a length, and I got beat by less than that."
Finishing behind the top four were City West, Red Eye, Irisheyesareflying, and Blade Prospector.
Coupled for wagering purposes with fellow Juddmonte Farms' runner Aptitude, Skimming returned $3.20, $2.10, and $2.10. The $1 exacta paid $3.50.
Skimming earned his sixth win from 15 starts and the $300,000 winner's share of the purse, pushing his career earnings over $1 million. Skimming's biggest career victory came in last year's Pacific Classic (gr. I), where he beat eventual Horse of the Year Tiznow by two lengths. His other graded stakes win came in the San Diego Handicap (gr. III). A 5-year-old son of Nureyev--Skimble, by Lyphard, Skimming is inbred 2x3 to Northern Dancer, displaying a familiar Juddmonte Farms breeding pattern of inbreeding to Northern Dancer on the tail-male and broodmare sire lines. (Chart, Equibase