Bridlewood Farm, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's Marconi ($11) captured Friday's $100,000 Skip Away at Gulfstream Park, but the 4-year-old son of Tapit had to work extremely hard to achieve his first career stakes triumph.
The Skip Away kicked off the weekend stakes action at Gulfstream Park, where 10 stakes worth $2.450 million will be contested, highlighted by the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1). The 32nd running of the Skip Away, a 1 3/16-mile stakes for older horses, preceded the 67th running of the $100,000 Appleton (G3), a mile turf stakes for older horses, and the 55th edition of the $100,000 Orchid (G3), a 1 3/8-mile turf stakes for older fillies and mares.
Marconi, a half-brother to 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Mucho Macho Man, raced in mid-pack as the Scotsman set fractions of 24.88 and 49.97 seconds for the first half-mile before completing six furlongs in 1:14.09. Realm took over the lead on the far turn and showed the way into the stretch with Sir Anthony in hot pursuit to his inside. Sir Anthony managed to stick a head in front nearing the wire but was unable to hold off the far outside drive of Marconi, who responded to stretch-long urging of jockey Luis Saez.
“He's been training well. We were optimistic coming in. We always felt like the longer the better for him. He had a little time to mature. He's a big horse and we always felt like he'd get better with a little time. We were hoping he would show up and deliver the type of performance he's been showing in the morning. It was nice to see. Luis gave him a good ride and he kept coming,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I think he's heading in the right direction and as a 4-year-old he should start to really figure things out. I was impressed by how he was training recently; it seems like he's kind of been coming around.”
Marconi, a $2 million yearling purchase, ran 1 3/16 miles in 1:56.30, edging Sir Anthony by a half-length. Realm finished third, another neck back. Rocketry, the 6-5 favorite, was never a factor.
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