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G3-Placed Krsto Skye Gets Class Relief in Claiming Crown Express

Dec 4, 2020
Quenane Going for Win No. 14 in $75,000 Claiming Crown Iron Horse
Lots of Chances for Maker to Add to Claiming Crown Total

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Daniel Feit and Carlos David’s Krsto Skye, narrowly beaten in back-to-back graded-stakes, gets some class relief as he returns to the site of his most recent victory in Saturday’s $75,000 Claiming Crown Express.

Also trained by David, Krsto Skye is the 5-2 program favorite in the six-furlong Express for 3-year-olds and up that have started for a claiming price of $8,000 or less lifetime. The 8-year-old Krsto Skye will be making his 61st career start and fifth since being haltered by David for $16,000 Feb. 14 at Gulfstream.

Krsto Skye has one win, two seconds and a third since the barn change, the victory coming by 3 ½ lengths in an optional claimer July 31 at Gulfstream contested at the Express distance. David brought him back in the Sept. 5 Smile Sprint (G3), where he ran second by three-quarters of a length.

From there, Krsto Skye set the pace and took a 1 ½-length lead into the stretch of the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) on the Oct. 3 undercard of the Preakness (G1) at Pimlico Race Course but had to settle for fourth, beaten 1 ¼ lengths.

“Those last two races were really tough. The Pimlico race being on Preakness Day, you’re going to find really good horses in there. He ran a good race,” David said. “Coming back in two months, it’s hard to find races. I tried to find a race in between these two races but couldn’t so we just try to keep him happy and healthy. I don’t think he minds the two month break really.”

Krsto Skye has won 13 times including over dirt, turf and synthetics, finishing third by less than a length to track record-holder Pay Any Price in the Bobby Umphrey Turf Sprint July 5 at Gulfstream. Two-time reigning Eclipse Award champion Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride from Post 1.

“I’m really excited. I think this is definitely the spot,” David said. “It’s not easy to find races for this horse. He’s been around for a while. The only other races that he can be in are claiming races, and I’m not ready to lose him just yet. I think he fits in this race.”

David has three other horses for the Claiming Crown. Michele and Lawrence Sargent’s Dahlonega will also have the services of Ortiz in the $90,000 Distaff Dash, a five-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares 3 and up who have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less in 2019-20. The 5-year-old mare was claimed for $10,000 out of her most recent start Nov. 6 at Gulfstream Park West, and is third choice at 6-1.

“I like the filly. I thinks she’s fairly young and she’s got a few races still to run,” David said. “It’s definitely challenging from her coming off a $10,000 claimer and stepping up in class into a stake. She’s good and I think she’ll run well. I think everybody has a shot.”

David will send out Joe Di Baggio, also owned by Feit, in the $85,000 Rapid Transit, for 3-year-olds and up that have run for a $16,000 tag or less in 2019-20. The 4-year-old gelding, listed at 15-1 on the morning line, stretches from six to seven furlongs out of a 1 ¼-length optional claiming triumph Nov. 6 at Gulfstream West.

“This is a horse that I’m really happy with. I was able to improve him off a nice barn in [Oscar] Gonzalez. He’s just a really cool horse,” David said. “He’s fairly young. He’s run in tough races and I think he’s stepped up. This is going to be a challenge for him. Trying to win a little stake here is going to be the next step.”

The last of David’s contenders is Palm Beach Racing Partnership’s Jost Sayin, a 20-1 long shot in the program from Post 9 for the $95,000 Tiara. Run at 1 1/16 miles on grass for fillies and mares 3 and up which have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less in 2019-20, the Tiara drew a field of 11. Jost Sayin was a 5 ¼-length last out winner in an off-the-turf optional claimer Oct. 28 at Gulfstream West.

“I love this filly. It’s definitely a tough race because there’s some really nice fillies in here that are coming from up north,” David said. “She’s going to turn 6 and I think the older she gets, the better she’s going to get. I love her on the grass. I think she’s going to run good.”

Quenane Going for Win No. 14 in $75,000 Claiming Crown Iron Horse

Two starts back, IAB Stables and Walter Fralick’s Quenane found himself running in the same Gulfstream Park West race as Bodexpress, the 2019 Florida Derby (G1) runner-up who parlayed a triumph that day to a victory in last month’s Clark Handicap (G1).

Quenane also used the same Oct. 17 race to win next out, springing a 27-1 upset in the Millions Classic Preview over a field full of stakes winners at GPW. The 6-year-old gelding will go after his second straight win and third in a stakes this year in Saturday’s $75,000 Claiming Crown Iron Horse.

Trained by Tammy Levy, Quenane drew Post 8 in an overflow field of 16 that includes four also-eligibles for the 1 1/16-mile Iron Horse, restricted to 3-year-olds and up that have started for a claiming price of $8,000 or less lifetime.

Claimed as a 3-year-old for $6,250 out of a third-place finish July 9, 2017 at Gulfstream in what was his 10th start, Quenane has earned all but one of his 13 lifetime wins and $20,120 of a career $300,649 bankroll with Levy.

“Thankfully I own most of him. Our partner sometimes gets frustrated and wants to put him in a little bit cheaper spot, and he’s lost most of his eligibility,” Levy said. “This summer he had to run through some salty conditions. I thank them for always sticking by me and believing my vision when I tell them that a horse who trains like this horse trains and lives like he lives and thrives the way he thrives and always tries the way he tries. That’s what happens.

“You get a good horse that tries and you get owners that let you try different things and don’t ever give up on them and sometimes you get success,” she added. “They come fewer and further between at this level than they did when he was a starter horse, but he can do it. I’ve always believed that he could do it.”

Quenane punched his ticket to the Claiming Crown with his most recent start, uncharacteristically going gate to wire in the one-mile Classic Preview, beating late-running defending champion and multiple stakes winner Noble Drama by a length. Angel Arroyo, injured Nov. 20 at Gulfstream West, is replaced in the irons by Robby Albarado.

“I kind of wanted to get a softer spot but I couldn’t get the race to go that I was looking at,” Levy said. “I just didn’t really want to run him that hard before the Claiming Crown but I really didn’t have a choice. That made the case for the Claiming Crown for me. I kind of doubt that most horse that run in that race are going to have beaten horses and run against horses that he’s run against all summer long.

“The time before he kind of got hooked in the race against Bodexpress. I mean, what do you say about that?” she added. “He’s a horse I claimed for $6,250 running against a horse that ran in the Derby. What do you say about that? You pat him on the butt and you prepare him as best you can and believe in him and pray a little bit.”

A win Saturday would make Quenane the richest horse Levy has ever trained, surpassing the $303,363 that she and 21-time career winner Courtney Ryan accumulated together from 2012-16. Courtney Ryan ran second by a neck in the 2013 Claiming Crown Iron Lady and sixth in the 2015 Glass Slipper.

Quenane’s 13 career wins are third-most in the Iron Horse field, trailing 20-time winner Frost Or Frippery and the pair of Bobby G and Deal Driven, each with 15 lifetime victories. Levy felt that Quenane, winner of the Feb. 17 Rough and Ready at Gulfstream to open his 2020 campaign, is at his best when he’s allowed to place himself during a race.

“Most of his wins came with me and he’s never gone to the lead. He’s never really warranted any part of that type of pace scenario,” Levy said. “A couple races back when he ran at Gulfstream and won an allowance optional 25 with Cristian Torres on top, he kind of wanted to sit close early and he just kind of picked up the reins and went on with it. He had never done that.

“My exercise rider, Madeleine Sciametta, she felt like, ‘Why can’t we get a rider on this horse that just listens to him and lets him run instead of trying to take his intention away,’ because every time he runs the intention is different. It depends on how he goes over there that day,” she added. “He knows the pace, he’s an older horse. He knows where the wire is. He knows the job so you‘ve got to kind of let him decide. Sometimes he knows best.”

Lots of Chances for Maker to Add to Claiming Crown Total

Trainer Mike Maker, who has saddled a record 17 winners in the Claiming Crown, returns for Saturday’s 22nd edition at Gulfstream with 11 starters, including six (one on the also eligible) in the $95,000 Emerald for 3-year-olds and up on the turf which he’s won seven times.

Maker will saddle the 7-2 morning-line favorite Hieroglyphics in the Emerald along with Temple (4-1), Artie’s Runner (5-1), Muggsamatic (6-1) and Apreciado (8-1). Sniper Kitten (12-1) is on the also eligible.

Maker’s other starters include Treasure Trove (7-2) in the $150,000 Jewel, Long Blade (7-2) in the $75,000 Express, and Tiger Blood (6-1) in the Canterbury.

Maker was shut out last year, the first time he hadn’t won a Claiming Crown event since 2015.

Saturday’s Claiming Crown program has a special noon first race post. The first race will be a maiden special weight event for 2-year-old fillies and the third a maiden special weight for 2-year-olds. Both at a mile on the turf. 

Trainer Bill Mott sends out Uptown Flirt in the first leg, a daughter of Speightster who finished second and third in maiden special company at Saratoga in the summer. Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out two in the third. Easton Rocks, a son of Declaration of War, makes his debut while Fighting Force, a son of Air Force Blue, enters off a third-place finish at Keeneland.

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