BALTIMORE, MD – J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Vertical Oak outdueled her fellow graded stakes-winning foe Ms Locust Point on Friday to take a splashy edition of the $100,000 Skipat Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Breaking well from post 8 under Ricardo Santana, Jr., Vertical Oak and Ms Locust Point shot out to the early lead, with the former tied tightly to the latter’s outer hip through opening splits of :23.03 and :46.31. Straightening out for the drive home, Vertical Oak was given her cue and began distancing herself from her rival. Under steady urging, the Steve Asmussen trainee hit the wire first by 1 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:10.35 for the 6-furlong sprint over the sloppy (sealed) main track.
“I had a pretty good trip,” said Santana, Jr., who was also in the saddle for Vertical Oak’s maiden-breaking run at Saratoga and an allowance score at Churchill Downs. “She did everything right and responded when I asked her. I had won on her before, but this is my first stakes win with her. She’s a nice filly.”
Start With Silver saved ground along the inside for much of the race and used that to her advantage late, getting up late past Ms Locust Point for second by a 1/2-length. Toby Girl and Luckyallmylife completed the order of finish in a small field that saw Cairenn, Everlasting Secret, and Katalust get scared away by the track conditions.
Vertical Oak’s win was her first of 2018 after a third-place debut this year in the $150,000 Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The 4-year-old daughter of Giant Oak increased her career bankroll to $521,700.
“She’s a nice filly,” Asmussen said. “She’s run super races on an off racetrack. The draw was great for her and so was the result. She won the (Grade 3) Miss Preakness here last year and this was the target. We hope she has a very good year. And now she’ll likely head to New York.”
Vertical Oak returned $4.60 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.10 to show. Startwithsilver brought back $3 to place and $2.10 to show, while Ms Locust Point paid $2.10 to show.