10/26/2006 11:00PM

Colt could prove Skip Away's breakthrough


LEXINGTON, Ky. - One of the contenders for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile with the fewest questions about his capacity to run a distance is Skip Code. He is the son and grandson of horses who showed their best form when racing nine and 10 furlongs in Skip Away, Skip Trial, and Sunny's Halo, and Skip Code appears to have inherited some of the quality, as well as the stamina, of his ancestors.

As a racehorse, the gallant gray Skip Away inspired legions of fans to follow racing for years as his career spun out on racetracks across the country and on sports pages around the world.

Since his retirement to stud, Skip Away has been a useful stallion who has seemed to be one big horse away from breaking through into popular appreciation as a significant stallion.

Skip Code, winner of the Grey Stakes in Canada, could be that horse as he obviously prefers a distance and has some versatility in his racing style. Furthermore, Skip Code is coming to form in much the same way as his famous father, by showing improvement and quality form over a distance at the end of the year.

After running second in the Remsen at 2, Skip Away matured into a high-class performer and champion from age 3 through his final campaign at age 5, winning the Breeders' Cup Classic, nine other Grade 1 stakes, and more than $9.6 million in purses.

With a pedigree that lacks the heroes of the commercial marketplace such as Storm Cat, A.P. Indy, Mr. Prospector, and Northern Dancer, Skip Away was worth more as a racehorse so long as all was well with him. And when the time came for him, as for all athletes, to seek greener pastures, he found them in the bluegrass of Kentucky at the Hopewell Farm of Rick Trontz.

Trontz said: "He's our marquee stallion, one of the soundest horses at the top level in recent history, and he's a wonderful outcross for the breed in developing more sound horses. He's a solid sire of racehorses who run on any surface, and if people give them a little time, they seem to be better and appreciate going around two turns, where there's more money, anyway."

Bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm, Skip Code is out of the Sunny's Halo mare Heavenly Note. One of two Kentucky Derby winners by the important sire Halo, Sunny's Halo began his racing career in Canada, like Skip Code, and then ventured south for greater fame.

Heavenly Note is one of her sire's stakes winners, although she was useful in class of competition rather than a great performer like some of her future mates, such as Horse of the Year Skip Away.

She was also one of three stakes winners out of the Golden Ruler mare Muted Music, whose other foals included stakes winners Contrefaire (by Sham) and Mr. T.'s Tune (Al Hattab). Each of these stakes winners also has produced a stakes winner as a broodmare.

Skip Code is the first stakes winner from his dam. As her ninth foal, he brought only $20,000 from Stedham Stud at the Keeneland September sale in 2005, then was resold for $60,000 at the Ocala Breeders Sales Company's February sale of select 2-year-olds in training held at Calder racetrack earlier this year.

In his workout for the juvenile sales, Skip Code earned a subpar BreezeFig while showing a stride length of 25.7 feet. Although his work time of 22.60 seconds for a quarter-mile was not exceptional, the colt's stride length was in the top five at any distance for the Ocala sale. Such a stride length is obviously impressive, and Skip Code has matured significantly since February. His stride length, continuing progress with strength and maturity, and his willingness to rate during a race are impressive and give him a chance to upset the Juvenile.

At the February sale, however, he was nearly as much an unfinished racer as he had been five months earlier in the September sale, and brought only a modest sum for a colt among the elite and precocious juveniles at Calder. Tim Kegel bought Skip Code as agent, and the colt races for Charles Laloggia.

Skip Code has a yearling full sister who sold late in the Keeneland September sale last month, bringing $16,500 from Brian Rose & Gate 9 LLC.

Heavenly Note produced a colt by Chapel Royal in 2006 and is back in foal to Skip Away on an April 25 cover.