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Skippylongstocking wins W.Va. Derby

VICTORIOUS RIDE — Skippylongstocking wins West Virginia Derby Saturday at Mountaineer. - Coady Photography

The plan for Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking worked to perfection Saturday at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort when the 3-year-old Exaggerator colt who had been competitive in two Triple Crown races broke through with his first stakes victory in the $500,000 Grade III West Virginia Derby.

Trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., Skippylongstocking in his last start finished a solid third in the Grade I Belmont Stakes June 11 after dueling with eventual fourth-place finisher We the People for about a mile and a quarter.

Joseph freshened the colt a bit before he returned to the work tab at Saratoga Race Course in July.

The goal, Joseph said, was the West Virginia Derby, which from the far turn to the finish turned into a battle between the two colts that did the early work in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont.

We the People, a Constitution colt owned by WinStar Farm, Bobby Flay, Siena Farm and CMNWLTH and trained by Rodolphe Brisset, again grabbed the early initiative in West Virginia Derby with Skippylongstocking in second, never worse than 1 1/4 lengths behind. We the People, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., set an honest pace on a track rated sloppy with three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.50.

Skippylongstocking, ridden by Edwin Gonzalez for the first time, ranged up outside the leader on the far turn and the duel was on. The winner gradually edged clear of a stubborn We the People to win by 1 1/4 lengths in

a good 1:48.11. Simplification, who raced in third throughout, finished 4 3/4 lengths behind favored We the People. The winner paid $9.80 as the third

choice.

Skippylongstocking, who doubled his career earnings to $672,600, was purchased for $37,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. 2-year-olds in training sale. The colt provided Alonso, who has been a Thoroughbred owner since 2015, with his first graded stakes win.

“This is huge,” said Alonso, who was part of a large group in the winner’s circle. “It’s our first graded-stakes win, and we’re looking forward and we’ll see what happens. Maybe we’ll take a shot at the big boys.”

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