05/18/2002 11:00PM

Skipping wins Jim Murray Handicap

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Skipping gave trainer Bobby Frankel a record sixth winner in Sunday's 13th running of the Jim Murray Handicap at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

A recent European import, Skipping stalked pacesetter Startac to the final turn, rallied wide to reach contention and pulled clear in the final furlong to win the $80,175 restricted handicap by two lengths. Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Skipping ($4.60) finished 1 1-2 miles on turf in 2:26.23.

"He ran so smoothly," Desormeaux said. "I didn't need to do much, just aim this guy in the right direction and let him stretch his legs. I knew I could take Startac anytime I wanted."

Skipping was fourth or fifth in the first mile, tracking Startac who set slow fractions of 25.01; 49.04; and 1:14. Desormeaux urged Skipping into contention at the end of the backstretch.

Startac held second, followed by Our Main Man, Sharbayan, Straight Flush, Poker Brad and Lasting Tribute.

Skipping was a minor stakes winner in France last year.

Owned by Juddmonte Farms, the 5-year-old Skipping has won 4 of 11 starts and $132,023.

The Jim Murray Handicap, restricted to non-winners of a first-place purse of $60,000 at a mile or over this year, was Skipping's second start in the U.S.

He finished second in an allowance race over a mile at Santa Anita on April 17.

Frankel won the Murray Handicap five times in the 1990s, but had not won the brace since 1998 with Cote d'Azur.