Skate Away Closes Best in Woodchopper

(From track report)
Skate Away and his trainer Jeff Trosclair kept their perfect record at Fair Grounds intact by winning Saturday's $100,000 Woodchopper Handicap.

Skate Away, undefeated in three career starts on turf, used his patented come-from-behind style to wear down pacesetter Runaway Choice in a thrilling stretch run. Seainsky closed gamely along the inside to finish second, while Runaway Choice held on for third.

"We got a dream trip," said Trosclair, who finished second in the 2000 Woodchopper with Sunspot. "Gerard (Melancon) rode the horse perfectly. This makes him 3-for-3 on the turf and you have to be thankful to have a horse of this caliber in the barn. I think that allowance race he had over the track really helped him out."

Owned by Jesse Robinson, Skate Away returned $13.80, $9.00, and $6.00 in the 11-horse field of 3-year-olds. Better Talk Now, the 6-5 favorite, faded to an eighth place finish after gaining a short lead in the stretch.

"I wanted to place him in a comfortable spot down the backstretch," said Melancon, who captured his second stakes win of the meet. "We got in a good spot turning for home. It opened just enough to let us through. From there it was clear sailing. I wouldn't have traded with anybody in the race after he won that allowance race earlier in the meet."

Skate Away stopped the clock in 1:45.25 for about 1 1/16 mile on the Stall-Wilson turf course. Skate Away, a gelded son of Belong To Me, cleared the $100,000 mark in career earnings with his fourth career win from eight starts.

(Chart, Equibase)