Repole Stable's Micromanage seemed to have forgotten the way to the winner's circle, but he found it again March 29 in South Florida when galloping clear in the $100,000 Skip Away Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park (VIDEO).
Rebounding from a seventh-place finish in the Feb. 22 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the 4-year-old son of Medaglia d'Oro made his first start at Gulfstream and crossed the wire in front for the first time in eight attempts since his Long Branch Stakes score at Monmouth Park last July.
The race set up beautifully for the Todd Pletcher trainee, with longshot pacesetters Nevada Kid and Sr. Quisqueyano pushing each other through an opening quarter in :24.06 and a half in :47.55 for the 1 3/16-mile event. Those two alternated the advantage while Micromanage, who sported blinkers and was easily maneuvered over from the outside post in a field of 10 older runners, tracked in third on the outside under Javier Castellano.
"He got a great trip from the outside, he was able to get over and save some ground on the first turn with a stalking position," Pletcher said. "I think the distance suits him well. I'm not sure (if the blinkers helped) because he did get a perfect trip today. We knew last time when Mike Smith rode him, he said, 'The horse didn't run that bad, he got stuck inside and he didn't like that.' So we wanted to keep him clear and maybe the blinkers gave him some confidence. He ran a good one."
Sr. Quisqueyano struck the lead turning for home as Nevada Kid began to fade after three-quarters in 1:11.07. But Micromanage had the front-runner in his sights and put him away following a 1:36.24 mile en route to a 4 1/4-length victory. Norumbega closed well but was clearly second best; Sr. Quisqueyano gave way but managed to get third. Final time on the fast track was 1:55.36.
"I had a beautiful trip," said Castellano, who rode his fourth winner on the card. "On the backside, my horse kept track of the two speed horses. We had a beautiful spot and at the half-mile pole I knew I had it. I felt it, that we would win the race."
Micromanage returned $10.40, $5.40, and $4 at odds of 4-1, while 9-2 Norumbega paid $6.20 and $4.20. Sr. Quisqueyano paid $14 at 37-1. Completing the order of finish was Nikki's Sandcastle, who was steadied hard early on, Nevada Kid, Macho Bull, 3-1 favorite War Dancer, Csaba, Joshua's Comprise, and Salustio. Grand Tito scratched to run in the Appleton Stakes (gr. IIIT) one race earlier on the card and finished fifth.
Bred in Kentucky by Fiona Craig and Dermot Cantillon out of the Flying Paster mare Catnip, Micromanage was a $170,000 purchase by J.J. Crupi, agent for Repole Stable, at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale when consigned by Woods Edge Farm. The Skip Away victory improved his record to 4-3-2 from 14 starts and earnings of $436,881.
"The race I really want to get him ready for is the Brooklyn (gr. I) on Belmont Day (June 7)," Pletcher said. "The mile-and-a-half will suit him well. We'll probably run him somewhere in between that, but I'm not sure where yet."