Scratched From Kentucky Derby With Fever, Skinner Returns In Sunday’s Affirmed Stakes At Santa Anita by Mike Willman/Santa Anita|06.01.2023|5:36pm Skinner gets a bath at Churchill Downs A close third in the Santa Anita Derby, C R K Stable's Skinner, who was considered a major contender in the Kentucky Derby until a spike in temperature necessitated a scratch one day prior to the Run for the Roses, heads a field of six sophomores going a mile and one sixteenth in Sunday's $100,000 Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita. Although trainer John Shirreffs named Juan Hernandez to ride Skinner in Kentucky, Mike Smith will ride for the first time on Sunday. A long fused colt by Curlin, Skinner was gaining inches late in the mile and one eighth Santa Anita Derby on April 8 in a performance that suggested he was on the improve and that a mile and a quarter would be right in his wheelhouse. A one mile maiden winner here three starts back, it appeared Skinner was making the winning move in the Grade 2 San Felipe on March 4, but he ended up an even third, beaten 3 ¾ lengths by Practical Move, who would go on to take the Santa Anita Derby. With a half mile and two five furlong works to his credit since returning from Churchill Downs, Skinner has not missed any training for Shirreffs and appears poised for a big effort following his career-top 99 Beyer Speed Figure earned in his third-place finish on April 8. Out of the Malibu Moon mare Winding Way, Skinner has a win and three third place finishes from six starts, good for earnings of $216,300. Richard Mandella's Geaux Rocket Ride, a dazzling 5 ¾ length first-out maiden winner going six furlongs on Jan. 29, was subsequently the 5-2 favorite in the March 4 San Felipe, a race in which he pressed the pace while second throughout and held Skinner safe by 1 ¼ lengths for the place in a huge effort. Idle since the San Felipe, Geaux Rocket Ride, who was ridden by Flavien Prat in his first two outings, will get Ramon Vazquez for the first time on Sunday. By Candy Ride out of the Uncle Mo mare Beyond Grace, Geaux Rocket Ride is owned by Pin Oak Stud, LLC. A gritty one mile maiden winner going one mile in his third start on Jan. 2, Mr Fisk was then transferred to trainer Tim Yakteen from Bob Baffert in order to earn Kentucky Derby qualifying points in the San Felipe. Off at 22-1 with Frankie Dettori, Mr Fisk was never a factor, finishing sixth, beaten 10 ¾ lengths. Back with Baffert and reunited on Sunday with Juan Hernandez who was up for the maiden win, Mr Fisk, a Sunny Brook Stables homebred by Arrogate out of the Manduro mare Plein Air, has eight works on his tab dating back to April 3, his most recent a five furlong move in 1:00.20 here on May 27—third best of 27 at the distance. THE $100,000 AFFIRMED WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER Race 8 of 9 Approximate post time 4:30 p.m. PT Ze'bul—Abel Cedillo—120 Skinner—Mike Smith—120 Del Mar Jerry—Kent Desormeaux—120 Mr Fisk—Juan Hernandez—120 Hard to Figure—Tiago Pereira—120 Geaux Rocket Ride—Ramon Vazquez—120 First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 1 p.m. with admission gates opening at 11 a.m.