The $150,000 Skip Away Stakes (gr. III) on the April 2 Florida Derby (gr. I) undercard at Gulfstream Park drew six talented older horses who will go 1 1/8 miles over the main track.
The Skip Away, named for the 10-time grade I winner and three-time Eclipse Award winner, is the fifth race on the stakes-loaded card.
Crossed Sabres Farm's multiple stakes winning millionaire Valid looks to return to his winning ways for trainer Marcus Vitali in this spot. The 6-year-old gelded son of Medaglia d'Oro has finished first or second in 20 of his 36 starts and is 6-4-2 in 14 Gulfstream starts. The winner of Gulffstream's 1 1/16-mile Harlan's Holiday Stakes in December, Valid ran second to Mshawish in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) and Hal's Hope Stakes (gr. III) and most recently was a tough-luck fourth before being elevated to third via disqualification in the grade II, $500,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap at a mile.
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"He's definitely moving forward," Vitali said. "He came out of the Donn OK—just a few bumps and bruises, of course. It is what it is and he's okay for Saturday. We've entered him and we'll play it up until we get to the race.
"I think he's effective anywhere from a mile to a mile and an eighth," Vitali continued. "He's been going strong for a while now, so he's due for a breather soon. Just like when we gave Lochte a couple months, we hope he'll do well with some time off after this."
Regular rider Nik Juarez will be aboard the Virginia-bred gelding from post 5.
Joseph Allen's homebred Team Colors has finished in the top three in nine of 10 starts, with six of those on turf and three over synthetic surfaces. In his only main-track effort, over a muddy Gulfstream strip in allowance company Jan. 17, the 4-year-old had a troubled trip to get up for a neck victory.
A son of deceased stallion Street Cry out of multiple graded stakes winner Teammate—a half sister to top sire War Front —Team Colors began his career racing on synthetic surfaces in France before coming to the barn of Jimmy Jerkins in 2015. Hall of Famer rider John Velazquez will be aboard the colt for the first time in the Skip Away.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out Team Valor International and Southern Equine Stable's Savoy Stomp, a well-bred son of Medaglia d'Oro out of the stakes-winning A.P. Indy mare Crystal Current, a daughter of multiple grade I winner Dream Supreme.
A $875,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling, the 4-year-old colt looked promising early, winning his debut by two lengths before moving up to finish fifth over a muddy track at Aqueduct Racetrack in the Nashua Stakes (gr. II). After two more starts, he was sidelined from January to September of last year. Savoy Stomp has made steady progress in his three starts back, culminating in an impressive four-length win in allowance company after stalking the early pace.
The colt has worked steadily since that March 3 victory, including a bullet half-mile in :49 (best of 19) at Palm Beach Downs March 19.
Winds of Change Racing Stable's Rich Daddy has won four of his last six starts, including last month's restricted $50,000 Rough And Ready Stakes at Gulfstream. The 5-year-old gelded son of The Daddy, Rich Daddy will be seeking his third consecutive win in as many starts for trainer for trainer Victor Barboza Jr. Gulfstream Park, Saturday, April 02, 2016, Race 5
Enders Cat and Hesinfront, complete the field.
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Team Colors (KY) John R. Velazquez 117 James A. Jerkens 7/2 2 2Rich Daddy (KY) Emisael Jaramillo 121 Victor Barboza, Jr. 8/1 3 3Enders Cat (KY) John Cruz 117 Mikhail Yanakov 30/1 4 4Hesinfront (KY) Tyler Gaffalione 117 Dale L. Romans 12/1 5 5Valid (VA) Nik Juarez 121 Marcus J. Vitali 1/1 6 6Savoy Stomp (KY) Javier Castellano 117 Todd A. Pletcher 3/1
Gulfstream Park, Saturday, April 02, 2016, Race 5