Vertical Oak Looks For Pimlico Race Track Sucess In Skipat Stakes

May 13th, 2018

Vertical Oak looks to Continue Pimlico Success in $100,000 Skipat Stakes

Trainer Graham Motion Takes Three Shots at $100,000 Hilltop Stakes

Hogy Rolls into $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint Looking to ReboundVertical Oak looks to Continue Pimlico Success in $100,000 Skipat Stakes


      BALTIMORE – Accomplished graded-stakes winners Vertical Oak and Ms Locust Point headline the field for the 25th running of the $100,000 Skipat Stakes at legendary Pimlico Race Course on Friday, the day before the 143rd Preakness Stakes, the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

The Skipat for 3-year-old fillies and mares at six furlongs on the dirt is one of seven stakes races, four graded, on the 14-race Black-Eyed Susan Day card totaling $1.15 million in purses. Two other stakes races are the $100,000 Caplan Brothers Glass Jim McKay Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds and up at five furlongs on the grass and the $100,000 Hilltop Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on the turf.

The Skipat and the 13th edition of the Jim McKay Turf Sprint kick off the renewed Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series, an assortment of 25 races at tracks in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania which originally debuted in 1997 and ran for five years.

A field of eight was entered for the Skipat. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen hopes J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Vertical Oak, a chestnut 4-year-old filly by Giant One, out of Vertical Vision, can duplicate last year’s success at Pimlico, where she won the Miss Preakness (G3). She later went on to win the Prioress (G2) at Saratoga, and makes her second start of 2018 after running third last month at Oaklawn Park.

Cash is King LLC and Jim Reichenberg’s Ms Locust Point built a four-race winning streak that included the Barbara Fritchie (G2) at Laurel Park, but finished a tiring eighth stepping up to the Madison (G1) at Keeneland last month. The 4-year-old chestnut filly by Dialed In out of Whisper Number is trained by John Servis and has won six of nine career starts.

“We went out there and tackled Grade 1 horses,” said Servis, referring to the Madison. “She didn’t break good and once that happens you’re just asking for trouble. Then she made up about six lengths into a wicked pace. She just came up a little empty. She’s doing good and I’m just looking for a spot to get her back in the winner’s circle.”

Also entered are Smart Angle LLP’s Cairenn, Shooting Star Racing Stables LLC’s Everlasting Secret, Loooch Racing Stables, Inc.’ Katalust, and Iris Smith Stable, Lady Sheila Stable and Linda Rice’s Startwithsilver. Supplemented to the field were Toby Girl and Luckyallmylife.

Startwithsilver, trained by Rice, has made a smooth transition from turf to dirt. The 5-year-old gray or roan mare is three-for-four at six furlongs on dirt.

“She’s really become quite a closing sprinter on the dirt and we had a good winter with her,” Rice said. “She’s run very well. … It’s a perfect distance and she’s getting a little better at becoming a formidable closing sprinter.”



A field of 11 3-year-old fillies was entered for the 46th running of the Hilltop, including three trained by Fair Hill, Md.-based Graham Motion. Three-time stakes winner Thewayiam tops his trio, which also includes Peach of a Gal and Secret Message.

Owned by Great Point Stables LLC, Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group LLC, Al Shahania Stud and Bethlehem Stables LLC, Thewayiam won the Sweetest Chant (G3) and Herecomesthebride (G3) at Gulfstream Park this winter. The French-bred filly was jostled at the start of the Appalachian (G2) at Keeneland in her last race but closed for second, a length behind the winner, Rushing Fall.

“I was really impressed with her in Florida, and thought she was suited to Florida and she really liked the turf course,” Motion said. “With that in mind, I was even more impressed with her second-place finish at Keeneland against what’s arguably the best 3-year-old filly in the country. Yes, she has improved. She’s relentless. She’s like the Energizer bunny. She’s just non-stop.”

Glenangus Farm LLC’s Peach of a Gal, a 3-year-old daughter of two-time Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Curlin, comes into the race off an allowance win at Laurel on May 5, while lightly raced 4-year-old Secret Message, owned by Madaket Stables LLC, also won an allowance race in her last start, March 31 at Turfway Park.

“It’s a big step up for Peach of a Gal,” Motion said. “We took a shot at the [Florida] Oaks [G3] in Tampa and she didn’t run terribly but it was a big step up for her. We tried the allowance and she won nicely and we’re going to try her back in the stake.”

Secret Message, a recent purchase by Brad Weisbord, has been training well with Thewayiam at Fair Hill “and she seems like a nice type of filly from what I’ve seen of her for about a month and a half,’’ Motion said.

Also entered are Fairy Link, Firth, Jehozacat, Judge Lee, Madame X., Souper Striking, and Wendy Peffercorn.Hogy Rolls into Jim McKay Turf Sprint Looking to Rebound 


    The Jim McKay Turf Sprint drew a field of 10, from 4-year-old Imprimis to the old man of the group, 9-year-old Hogy.

    Michael M. Hui’s Hogy could be the horse to watch despite a ninth-place finish in a strong field in the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) at Keeneland on April 13. “It was probably the company,” trainer Mike Maker said. “And, he had a wide trip with no pace.”

    Hui and Maker were well aware of Hogy’s history, finishing behind him several times, so they claimed the gelding last year for $80,000. He won the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3), then ran second in the Woodford (G2) at Keeneland before an off-the-board finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). He came back this year with two wins, including the Canadian Turf (G3) at Gulfstream.

    Hogy will be running in his 52nd career race, with 19 wins, 13 seconds and six thirds for earnings of $1,333,337. Breeze Easy LLC’s Imprimis, by contrast, will be making his fourth career start. The Joe Orseno-trained gelding has won each of his three previous starts, all at Gulfstream Park in 2018.

    Rocket Heat and Triple Burner are also in the field. The 6-year-old geldings dueled to the finish the last time they met in an allowance at Laurel on April 15, with Rocket Heat winning by a half-length.

    Also entered are Dubini, Field of Courage, Oak Bluffs, Pool Winner, Unbridled Daddy and Vici.

    The race is named in memory of ABC broadcaster Jim McKay, a lifelong racing fan who owned a home and farm in Maryland. He died in 2008.

About Pimlico Race Course

Legendary Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness® Stakes, the Middle Jewel in horse racing’s famed Triple Crown, first opened its doors on October 25, 1870, and is the second oldest racetrack in the United States. Pimlico has played host to racing icons and Baltimoreans have seen the likes of legendary horses such as Man o’ War, Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Affirmed, American Pharoah and Cigar thunder down the stretch in thrilling and memorable competition. For more information on Pimlico, visit

The Stronach Group is North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, home of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida and is one of North America’s top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world’s largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; Xpressbet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets. The Stronach Group is also a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry. For more information contact David Joseph at or call 954.658.7156.