Trainer Joseph Savoring First Classic-Placing With Belmont Stakes Third-Place Finisher Skippylongstocking - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Trainer Joseph Savoring First Classic-Placing With Belmont Stakes Third-Place Finisher Skippylongstocking

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. with Belmont Stakes third-place finisher Skippylongstocking last month at Pimlico

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. celebrated as Skippylongstocking crossed the finish line a game third in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (G1), earning his first classic placing with his first starter in the third jewel of the Triple Crown.

Joseph, who sent out White Abarrio to finish 16th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), also saw Skippylongstocking post a fifth-place finish in the Preakness (G1) ahead of his Belmont Stakes effort.

“It's great. Those are the kinds of races that most people buy horses for,” Joseph said. “To get there and compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown this year means a lot for my career and our whole team's career.”

Owned by Daniel Alonso, Skippylongstocking tracked behind pacesetter We the People and was patiently handled by Manny Franco to nearly take command with a quarter-mile to the finish. The son of Exaggerator lost position at the stretch call but battled back gamely to finish third behind the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of winner Mo Donegal and runner-up filly Nest.

“Manny gave him a perfect trip and he gave a very good run yesterday,” said Joseph, who after experiencing flight delays and eventually a cancellation decided to stay in South Florida Saturday to carry out his saddling duties at Gulfstream Park. “At one point, we thought he might have had a chance of winning it, but there was no disappointment. It was all joy with how he ran.”

Skippylongstocking made his 11th career start in the Belmont, which includes a good third in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial behind Mo Donegal in April.

“He's a horse that's had a tough campaign and he's very sturdy,” Joseph said. “He's shown up and has been consistent. He keeps improving and getting better. There's no disgrace in running third to Todd. We're thankful for the effort and how Skippy performed.”

Joseph said Skippylongstocking could make his next start in the $135,000 Curlin on July 29 at Saratoga Race Course or the West Virginia Derby (G3) on August 6 at Mountaineer Racetrack.

“We'll give him a little freshening and the crazy thing is he's never won a stakes, so the Curlin could be possible. The West Virginia Derby is a realistic target,” said Joseph. “I'd like to win one of these derbies with him. I would say that's the main target, but how do we get there? Do we go straight there or something before? We'll decide later.”

Out of the War Chant mare Twinkling, who also produced graded stakes-placed Joseph trainee Moonlite Strike, Skippylongstocking was a $37,000 purchase by Alonso at the 2021 OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training.

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