Silver Skillet skips to Mount Vernon win; Spirit of St Louis wins the Kingston

Sunday, June 9th, 2024

Silver Skillet dominates the off-the-turf Mount Vernon. Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo.

Christophe Clement heard the rain. Then he saw the rain. He didn’t care either way, Silver Skillet was running, rain or shine, turf or dirt. 

Silver Skillet showed she could handle either in her first 12 starts and did so again on Sunday’s New York Showcase Day card to close the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course. The 4-year-old daughter of Liam’s Map, a stakes winner in New York-bred company and placed in open stakes last year, added another stakes victory in the off-the-turf $125,000 Mount Vernon.

Joel Rosario rode Silver Skillet to her front-running score, finishing 4 lengths clear of Stonewall Star with 8-5 favorite Tough Street third in the scratched-down field of six. 

“She likes a wet track,” Clement said after the win. “She has run well before on a wet track. She was a little bit unlucky first time back at Aqueduct on the grass. She’s trained well. I just told Joel to break well and make it simple. And she broke well and he made it simple.”

Silver Skillet took command from the start, opening up 2 lengths through the opening quarter-mile in :24.31 and Rosario put his five rivals to bed from there. 

“With a sloppy track, we get in a position and see where we’re at,” Rosario said. “It looked like she showed a lot of speed and I was able to just go to the front and let her do what she wants to do.”

Silver Skillet continued to lead without pressure through the half in :47.35 and 6 furlongs in 1:11.21. She turned for home well in front and opened up 2 lengths in midstretch. Silver Skillet cruised from there, winning under a hand ride after on tap of Rosario’s right-handed whip in deep stretch. Silver Skillet won in 1:37.55. 

Silver Skillet improved to 2-for 4 on a wet track, adding the Mount Vernon to a 14 ½-length maiden win in December 2022. 

“She ran before on this kind of track and has run very well,” Rosario said. “Today, she proved that she’s OK with this track. You never know because (when a race comes off the turf) you could lose the speed of the race. We just try to get a good spot in the beginning and I was hoping to be close on the pace. I just tried to ride it from there.” – Tom Law

Sprit of St Louis handles off going to win Kingston to close New York Showcase Day card. NYRA Photo.

• Spirit of St Louis owner Michael Dubb didn’t have a stressful weekend.

He was only stressed before the Belmont Stakes festival started when he saw the thunderstorms scheduled for the weekend but other than that, there was no stress.

There definitely wasn’t any stress when he was standing in the winner’s circle after his New York-bred Spirit of St Louis won the $125,000 Kingston Stakes to close out the New York Showcase Day at Saratoga.

“I’ve been coming to Saratoga for 50 years and I’ve never had an experience like this in Saratoga,” Dubb said. “On Thursday when I arrived, I said ‘It’s a little awkward to be here.’ When I left Thursday afternoon, I said ‘Oh my God, this is unbelievable. I wish we could do this all the time.’ ”

Due to rain Sunday morning, the usual 1 1/16 mile turf race was moved to the dirt track for a muddy mile. It didn’t seem to bother the Chad Brown-trained 4-5 favorite.

Jockey Manny Franco put the son of Medaglia d’Oro near the lead in the shortened five-horse field and surged coming out of the final turn, passing Jerry the Nipper and Disarmed. From there, the race became how about the winning margin.

“He’s a good, consistent horse,” Brown said. “He’s effective on the dirt, particularly when it’s wet. He’s a real pleasure to have and he just continues to improve.”

The 5-year-old posted a 1:37.44 time and added his seventh victory and fourth stakes win in nine starts. This was his first dirt victory since his debut at Aqueduct in early 2023.

“He does whatever you ask him to do,” Franco said. “From the turf to dirt, he is a nice horse. He is very nice. Every time I ask him, he is there. He’s a cool horse.”

Dubb, before answering questions, asked a question of his own: “Where’s the champagne room?”

“It’s just phenomenal,” Dubb said. “This is the best racing place on Earth.” Spencer Ripchik

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