03/31/2016 11:06AM

Clean trip would make Valid formidable in Skip Away

Barbara D. Livingston
Valid will try to rebound from a troubled trip in the Gulfstream Park Handicap.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – With the eventful stretch run of the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap still fresh in his mind, trainer Marcus Vitali is hopeful that his handicap star Valid will rebound from that near disaster when he goes to post as the heavy favorite in Saturday’s Grade 3 Skip Away at Gulfstream Park.

Valid was making what many, including his trainer, thought was a winning move in midstretch of the Gulfstream Park Handicap when he was bumped solidly by the pacesetting Anchor Down, nearly losing his rider, Nik Juarez. Valid recovered from the collision to finish fourth, beaten 3 3/4 lengths by the winner, Blofeld, one of four horses including Anchor Down whom trainer Todd Pletcher ran in the race.

“I still don’t think it was a fair fight that day, but it is what it is,” Vitali said. “Very disappointing since there’s no doubt in my mind he was going to win. Hopefully, everybody stays straight this time. If they do, I think we should be good.”

Valid “got banged up a little bit” and missed a few days of training after that race, but all seems well heading into the 1 1/8-mile Skip Away, Vitali said.

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Earlier in the meet, Valid finished second to Mshawish in both the Grade 1 Donn Handicap and the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope.

“The competition looks to be a lot easier this time,” Vitali said. “All the good ones are either overseas or running somewhere up north.”

Pletcher will take on Valid with only one horse in the Skip Away, Savoy Stomp. He exits a career-best performance, having won an optional claimer by four lengths here March 3.

Savoy Stomp is one of three members of the six-horse field coming off a victory, along with Team Colors and Rich Daddy. Hesinfront and Enders Cat complete the field.

Key contenders

Valid, by Medaglia d’Oro

Last 3 Beyers: 96-103-103

◗ He towers over the field on class, having won two graded stakes last year.

Savoy Stomp, by Medaglia d’Oro

Last 3 Beyers: 92-89-70

◗ Matched his top Beyer Speed Figure with a 92 in his last start, which was only the second time he’d raced around two turns.

Sir Shackleton Stakes

Anchor Down, who was disqualified from third and placed fourth for impeding Valid in the one-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap, will turn back to seven furlongs for Saturday’s $100,000 Sir Shackleton.

Anchor Down set a lively pace and held well despite drifting out on a couple of occasions to finish 1 1/4 lengths behind Blofeld in his first start against Grade 2 competition.

Defer Heaven will get a class test while bringing a five-race winning streak into the Sir Shackleton. A former $6,250 claimer, he has led at every call in those five victories.

Grande Shores, seventh in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, shortens up to what might be his most effective distance, having won five times and finished in the money in 12 of his 15 starts at seven furlongs.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 3 Grande Shores. Trainer Stanley Gold is 30-2-3-4 with a $0.76 ROI over the past five years going from route to sprint on dirt at Gulfstream Park. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 1 Brothersofthetime. Trainer Jorge Navarro is 22-13-6-0 with a $4.14 ROI over the past five years in dirt sprints with Emisael Jaramillo aboard. Click for more details. Mike Hogan