Close menu
2023 Affirmed Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Geaux Rocket Ride Returns Sunday At Santa Anita
Geaux Rocket Ride (Benoit Photo)

2023 Affirmed Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Geaux Rocket Ride Returns Sunday At Santa Anita

Mike previews the 2023 Affirmed Stakes from Santa Anita Park, then gives his top picks & long shots. Former Kentucky Derby (G1) trail prospect Geaux Rocket Ride returns to the races Sunday when facing off against 4 rivals. Will he win big or will someone else spring the upset? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

SMASH the *Thumbs Up* ~ HIT *Subscribe* ~ RING the *Notification* bell

The press release:

            Skinner, who was scratched from the Kentucky Derby four weeks ago, has also been scratched from Sunday’s Affirmed Stakes.

            Trainer John Shirreffs made the decision to withdraw following a gallop on the main track Saturday morning. He notified the Santa Anita racing office of the scratch at about 9:30 a.m.

            “I just wasn’t happy with the way he jogged,” Shirreffs said from Clocker’s Corner.

            Skinner was the 9-5 second choice on the morning line behind Geaux Rocket ride, the 8-5 favorite trainer Richard Mandella. Hall of Famer Mike Smith was set to ride Skinner for the first time.

            Skinner has not raced since a third-place finish in the GI Santa Anita Derby on April 8. The Curlin colt was scratched from the Kentucky Derby two days before the 1 ¼-mile classic due to an elevated temperature.

            Following the illness and return trip to Santa Anita, Skinner was back on the work tab May 14, seven days after the Kentucky Derby. He had worked three times for the Affirmed, including a five-furlong move in 1:02.20 on Sunday.

            Owned by C R K Stable, Skinner was Grade I-placed as a 2-year-old while still a maiden. He earned his diploma here in his sophomore bow Feb. 12 and came back to be third in the GII San Felipe on March 4 prior to the Santa Anita Derby.  

              Skinner’s withdrawal from the Affirmed leaves a compact field of five set to go postward. Post time is scheduled for 4:44 p.m.

Santa Anita Full Card Plays Available Now

There’s a reason we’re the #1 trusted source for premium racing picks & info.

       A long fused colt by Curlin, Skinner was gaining inches late in the mile and one eighth Santa Anita Derby on April 8 in a performance that suggested he was on the improve and that a mile and a quarter would be right in his wheelhouse.  A one mile maiden winner here three starts back, it appeared Skinner was making the winning move in the Grade II San Felipe on March 4, but he ended up an even third, beaten 3 ¾ lengths by Practical Move, who would go on to take the Santa Anita Derby. 

      Out of the Malibu Moon mare Winding Way, Skinner has a win and three third place finishes from six starts, good for earnings of $216,300. 

      Richard Mandella’s Geaux Rocket Ride, a dazzling 5 ¾ length first-out maiden winner going six furlongs on Jan. 29, was subsequently the 5-2 favorite in the March 4 San Felipe, a race in which he pressed the pace while second throughout and held Skinner safe by 1 ¼ lengths for the place in a huge effort.   

      Idle since the San Felipe, Geaux Rocket Ride, who was ridden by Flavien Prat in his first two outings, will get Ramon Vazquez for the first time on Sunday.  By Candy Ride out of the Uncle Mo mare Beyond Grace, Geaux Rocket Ride is owned by Pin Oak Stud, LLC. 

      A gritty one mile maiden winner going one mile in his third start on Jan. 2, Mr Fisk was then transferred to trainer Tim Yakteen from Bob Baffert in order to earn Kentucky Derby qualifying points in the San Felipe.  Off at 22-1 with Frankie Dettori, Mr Fisk was never a factor, finishing sixth, beaten 10 ¾ lengths. 

      Back with Baffert and reunited on Sunday with Juan Hernandez who was up for the maiden win, Mr Fisk, a Sunny Brook Stables homebred by Arrogate out of the Manduro mare Plein Air, has eight works on his tab dating back to April 3, his most recent a five furlong move in 1:00.20 here on May 27—third best of 27 at the distance. 


Race 8 of 9 Approximate post time 4:30 p.m. PT 

  1. Ze’bul—Abel Cedillo—120 
  2. Skinner—Mike Smith—120 
  3. Del Mar Jerry—Kent Desormeaux—120 
  4. Mr Fisk—Juan Hernandez—120 
  5. Hard to Figure—Tiago Pereira—120 
  6. Geaux Rocket Ride—Ramon Vazquez—120 

      First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 1 p.m. with admission gates opening at  11 a.m.