'Skippy' bids for Special reward He'll have to overcome 128-pound impost to take $450,000 winner's share


On his way to what his owner and trainer hope are record career earnings, Skip Away brings "Skippy Tour '98" to Baltimore on Saturday as part of Pimlico Special, fan-appreciation and Secretariat-commemorative day at Pimlico.

Owned by Carolyn Hine, a native of Highlandtown, and trained by her husband, Sonny, the massive gray Skip Away -- whom the Hines lovingly call "Skippy" -- has earned $7,356,360. The $450,000 winner's share of the Pimlico Special's $750,000 purse would move Skip Away closer to Cigar's all-time earnings record of $9,999,815.

Skip Away drew the No. 4 post position and was installed the 3-5 favorite yesterday as five horses entered one of Maryland's two Grade I races. The other Grade I, the Preakness Stakes, will take place the following Saturday, May 16.

This Saturday, as part of fan-appreciation day at Pimlico, the track will offer free grandstand admission, free general parking and a free Pimlico program. The first 10,000 fans will receive a poster commemorating Secretariat's Triple Crown 25 years ago.

From 12: 30 to 2: 30 p.m., Penny Chenery, Secretariat's owner, and Ron Turcotte, his jockey, will autograph posters.

In the Pimlico Special, a highlight of Maryland racing, Skip Away will carry 128 pounds, the most of his career. He won under 127 pounds Feb. 28 in his last race, the Gulfstream Park Handicap.

Asked about the weight assignment, Sonny Hine said: "What can I do about it? I've faced it all year. But I don't really worry about my horse. I worry about the spread between my horse and the other horses."

The other horses will carry from 13 to 17 pounds less. Precocity, the 7-2 second choice of oddsmaker Clem Florio, was assigned 115 pounds, one more than he carried April 4 when he won the Grade I Oaklawn Handicap with an explosive late charge.

Does Hine think it odd that Pimlico racing secretary Thomas J. Baker added only one pound onto Precocity?

"I hope to tell you," Hine said. "But I can't say anything. It just gets me in trouble."

Wagon Limit, the Allen Jerkens-trainee who cruised to victory April 4 in the Grade III Westchester Handicap at Aqueduct, is the 9-2 third choice. That race was one mile. The Pimlico Special is 1 3/16 miles.

Hot Brush and Draw are 8-1.

Trained by Richard W. Small, Hot Brush romped to a seven-length win April 11 in the 1 3/16-mile John B. Campbell Handicap at Pimlico.

Trained by Shug McGaughey and owned by Stuart S. Janney III, Draw finished second to Wagon Limit in the Westchester Handicap. The lightweight with 111 pounds, Draw is the only horse in the field without a stakes victory.

However, Draw is the only horse in the field with jockey Gary Stevens. One of the hottest riders in the nation, Stevens will fly from California for the mount. Jerry Bailey will ride Skip Away.

On the Pimlico Special undercard is the $50,000, six-furlong Hirsch Jacobs Stakes, a race worthy of feature status on nearly any other Saturday. It is the first race in the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships (MATCH) division for 3-year-old sprinters.

Pub Date: 5/07/98

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