03/28/2015 5:49PM

Commissioner wins stretch battle in Skip Away

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Barbara D. Livingston
Commissioner, ridden by Javier Castellano, gets up by a neck over Sr. Quisqueyano in the Grade 3 Skip Away.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -  Commissioner finally got his first graded stakes victory and did so in game fashion, withstanding a stretch-long battle with the pacesetting Sr. Quisqueyano to register a well-deserved neck victory in the Grade 3 Skip Away on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Commissioner finished second at 3 in both the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes and Grade 1 Peter Pan. He entered the 1 3/16-mile Skip Away winless in seven starts dating back to the opening week of the 2014 meeting.

With Javier Castellano back aboard, Commissioner stalked the pace of Sr. Quisqueyano, who set reasonable splits of 24.38 seconds, 48.97, and 1:13.81 for the opening six furlongs over a deep and tiring track. Commissioner engaged the leader midway on the second turn, forged to a short advantage leaving the furlong grounds, and then maintained his narrow margin following a long, hard drive to the wire.

Sr. Quisqueyano, a game winner of the Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 17, was brave in defeat while finishing 7 1/4 lengths in front of third-place finisher Encryption, who never threatened the leaders through the stretch. East Hall, Ulanbator, and Tryer rounded out the complete order of finish.

Commissioner, a homebred son of A.P. Indy owned by WinStar Farm, completed the distance in 1:58.60 over the laboring surface and paid $4.80.

“I knew that Sr. Quisqueyano is a tough horse to get by when he makes the lead. We saw that in the Sunshine Millions,” said Pletcher. “It’s a big win for him. He’s been knocking on the door in some other big races, and he needed to get a graded stakes win to get him into the WinStar stallion barn. You see with a lot of the A.P. Indys that they just keep getting better and better and he’s all A.P. Indy.”

Pletcher said Commissioner would be pointed for the Grade 2 Brooklyn at Belmont on Belmont Stakes Day but left open the possibility he could start once more prior to that race.