03/30/2013 4:53PM

Gulfstream Park: Cigar Street wins Skip Away and boosts Mott barn

Barbara D. Livingston
Cigar Street (left) ranges up outside of pacesetter Take Charge Indy in the Skip Away. He went on to win the Grade 3 race by two lengths.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Cigar Street thrust himself into the picture in the handicap division while at the same time salvaging what had been up to that point a disappointing day for the Bill Mott barn when he rallied to a two-length victory over Take Charge Indy in Saturday’s $100,000 Skip Away at Gulfstream Park. The win was the fourth on the card and third graded stakes tally on the day for jockey John Velazquez.

Cigar Street remained perfect in three starts since being transferred to Mott’s barn last season by co-owners Jake Ballis and the Miami Heat’s Rashard Lewis. A son of Street Sense, Cigar Street won a pair of allowance races in impressive fashion earlier in the session to earn a berth in the Grade 3 Skip Away.

Cigar Street was forced to race a bit wide around the opening bend of the one mile and three-sixteenths Skip Away while kept within easy striking distance of pacesetter Take Charge Indy. Cigar Street engaged the leader three wide nearing the quarter pole, forged to command in early stretch, and gradually edged away through the final furlong.

Take Charge Indy, winner of the Grade 1 Florida Derby here a year ago and third in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap earlier in the meet, held on gamely after being displaced on the lead by the winner to be second best. It was another 6 3/4 lengths back to the pace-pressing Pants On Fire, who weakened steadily to finish a distant third.

Cigar Street paid $5.60 after completing the distance in 1:56.84 over a fast track.

“It saved the day for us here, I think,” said Mott’s assistant  Kenny McCarthy. “It was a little rough watching Dubai earlier today, and then a couple of our fillies here didn’t maybe perform as well as we’d thought.”

McCarthy was referring to Royal Delta, who finished far back in the Dubai World Cup and both Emollient and Starformer, who were off the board in the Gulfstream Oaks and Orchid, respectively.

“It’s nice to see this horse run like that," said McCarthy. "We’d always thought a lot of him. It was great to see him do this today. The race set up pretty much like we’d thought. Johnny said he was going to let him run a little bit out of the gate figuring (Pants On Fire) might show some speed. He backed off him a little bit, and once he did he settled in nice and kind of went from there.”