03/31/2010 11:00PM

Secret Getaway looks fine off his last


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - How fitting would it be if a son of Skip Away were to win the $125,000 Skip Away Stakes on Saturday at Gulfstream Park? That possibility is a strong one, with Fair Grounds invader Secret Getaway among the favorites for the Grade 3 fixture, which is the final graded stakes on the 2010 Gulstream stakes schedule.

Trainer Michael Stidham decided to send in Secret Getaway for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that this 5-year-old son of Skip Away comes off a huge effort three weeks earlier, a 5 3/4-length allowance victory that earned him a near-career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 102.

"He ran a big race in New Orleans last month. Numbers-wise, obviously, it was one of his best in a while," said Stidham. "The distance and, from the looks of it, the race itself suit him well. We were getting ready to ship everything up north anyway, and I figured it wasn't that far of a ship to send him down to Gulfstream first."

With a lack of any real early speed in the field, Stidham figures Secret Getaway to be forwardly placed from the outset of the 1 3/16-mile Skip Away.

"He's the type of horse who'll usually be laying in a forward position wherever that may be, and hopefully he'll just keep on going," said Stidham.

A field of eight has been entered for the Skip Away, including a pair from the barn of trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., Arson Squad and Helsinki.

Arson Squad appears to be cycling back to his best form after finishing third here under allowance conditions and second in the Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in his first two starts this winter. Arson Squad remains winless since taking the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup in October of 2008.

Helsinki, who was graded-stakes-placed earlier in his career, has been idle since finishing a distant fifth behind Quality Road in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap.

Timber Reserve finished a neck behind Arson Squad in the Challenger after winning a high-priced optional claiming race here in January.

Cristiano is the big question mark in this lineup. The 4-year-old won 3 of his 4 career starts by open lengths in his native Peru, including a Group 1 race in his 3-year-old finale, but will not have started since Sept. 20 when he makes his U.S. debut for trainer Walter Roses-Canessa on Saturday.