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Fluffy Socks kicks off Preakness Day with win in Selima Stakes; Never Enough Time wins Skipat

Fluffy Socks, stepping up off her maiden win last month, scooted through an opening along the rail and surged past favored leader Invincible Gal to win the $150,000 Selima on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.

The 91st running of the 1 1/16-mile Selima for 2-year-old fillies on the grass kicked off an all-stakes Preakness Day program of 12 races featuring the $1 million Preakness and $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan.

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This was only the fourth time the Selima was run at Pimlico and first since Hear Us Roar’s victory in 2004. Other editions on Old Hilltop came in 1943 and 1979.

Trevor McCarthy, Maryland’s four-time champion jockey, was unhurried on Fluffy Socks, a homebred by owner Head of Plains Partners, near the back of the pack as maiden Domain Expertise and 8-5 top choice Invincible Gal duked it out up front through fractions of 25.57 seconds, 51.36 and 1:17.17. While waiting for room at the top of the stretch, McCarthy found a seam and sailed through to win by 2 ¼ lengths in 1:50.74 over the yielding course.

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Invincible Gal, unlucky runner-up in the one-mile Sorority, finished second with 21-1 long shot Tic Tic Tic Boom getting up for third. Invincible Gal is trained by Graham Motion, who captured last year’s Selima with subsequent Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Sharing.

It was the second Selima win for McCarthy following Ruby Notion in 2015. Fluffy Socks, by British-bred Slumber, debuted running fifth Aug. 9 at Saratoga prior to her maiden score going a mile Sept. 7 at Kentucky Downs.

First run in 1926, the Selima is named for the great English race mare who was imported to the U.S. in the 1750s by Benjamin Tasker Jr., manager of the famed Belair Farm in Prince George’s County. The daughter of the Godolphin Arabian, considered ‘Queen of the Turf,’ also gained fame as a broodmare.

Horses head into the home stretch in The Runhappy Skipat Stakes, the 3rd race of the day on Preakness Saturday,
Horses head into the home stretch in The Runhappy Skipat Stakes, the 3rd race of the day on Preakness Saturday, (Jerry Jackson / Baltimore Sun)

Skipat Stakes

R. Larry Johnson’s Maryland homebred Never Enough Time shook off the pressure of Liza Star early and got to the wire three-quarters of a length ahead of a trio of late challengers in the $100,000 Skipat at Pimlico.

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The 27th running of the 6-furlong Skipat for fillies and mares 3 and up, named for the Barbara Fritchie (G3) winner of 1979 and 1981 among her 26 lifetime victories, was third on a 12-race, all-stakes Preakness Day program.

Never Enough Time ($7), fifth in the Miss Preakness (G3) on last year’s Preakness undercard, earned her second consecutive stakes victory following the Sept. 5 Alma North at Laurel Park. Trainer Mike Trombetta previously won the Skipat in 2004 with Love You Madly.

Jockey Julian Pimentel and Never Enough Time out-hustled Florent Geroux and Liza Star to the front, leading through fractions of 23.46, 46.03 and 57.87 seconds. Liza Star dropped back as the field hit the top of the stretch, leaving Never Enough Time with enough of a cushion to get to the wire as eight-time stakes winner Bronx Beauty, Bye Bye J and S W Briar Rose came running late.

Bronx Beauty, a narrow favorite at 2-1, was second, followed by Bye Bye J, S W Briar Rose, Liza Star and Last True Love. Chalon, the defending champion and program favorite, was scratched.

Never Enough Time, a 4-year-old daughter of graded-stakes winning sprinter Munnings, now owns five wins from nine career starts and is three-for-five this year.

Bred in Connecticut, Skipat won 26 of 45 career races and over six years, earning $614,215 between 1977 and 1981. Two of her wins came in the Barbara Fritchie (G3), in 1979 and 1981, the latter coming the year after she had been retired and bred and brought back to the races.

Horses running in the Hilltop Stakes, the fourth undercard races of the 145th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Horses running in the Hilltop Stakes, the fourth undercard races of the 145th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

De Francis Dash

Hillside Equestrian Meadows' Laki, winner of at least one stakes each of the past four years, added a graded triumph to his resume by getting his nose down on the wire in a three-way photo finish in the $250,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3). It was the 29th running of the 6-furlong De Francis for 3-year-olds and up.

In earning his first graded-stakes triumph from five tries, Laki ($16.40) gave trainer Damon Dilodovico his first career graded win and second in the De Francis following Immortal Eyes in 2013, when the race was ungraded.

This year marked only the third time the De Francis has been run at Pimlico, where it debuted in 1990 and returned in 2004. Laki, making his 28th lifetime start, had been winless in his only two tries over the surface, respectively, running fifth and sixth in the 2017 and 2018 Maryland Sprint (G3) on the Preakness undercard.

Runner-up in the 2019 De Francis, contested last fall at Laurel Park, where Laki and Dilodovico are based, Laki was content to settle off the pace as 17-1 long shot Krsto Skye sprinted to the lead and held it through a quarter-mile in 22.96 seconds and a half in 45.03. Landeskog, the 4-5 favorite, gave closest chase but was edged to third by Nitrous as Laki, kept in the clear, began to roll down the center of the track.

Laki and Nitrous drove for the wire together as Eastern Bay, who beat Laki in the Polynesian Stakes Sept. 5 at Laurel, came with a huge run on the far outside. The three horses came to the wire together but it was Laki who got there first in 1:09.70 over the fast main track. Eastern Bay edged Nitrous by a nose for second, and it was 1 ¼ lengths back to Krsto Skye in fourth.

Karamanos won the De Francis for a third time, having also finished first with Action Andy in 2012 and Chublicious in 2017. Earlier Saturday, Karamanos won the $100,000 Hilltop aboard Evil Lyn.

Named for the late president and chairman of both Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, and not run in 2008 or 2010, the De Francis' illustrious roster of past winners includes Hall of Famer Housebuster, fellow sprint champions Cherokee Run, Smoke Glacken, Thor’s Echo and Benny the Bull, and Lite the Fuse, the race’s only two-time winner (1995-96).

Laurel Futurity

Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher’s Catman graduated in style, taking the lead nearing the wire and tenaciously holding on by a nose over Wootton Asset in the $150,000 Laurel Futurity. It was the 94th running of the Laurel Futurity for 2-year-olds.

It was the second stakes win of the day for trainer Mike Maker, who saddled Evil Lyn to victory for the same owners in the $100,000 Hilltop. While it was Maker’s first Laurel Futurity win, jockey Daniel Centeno was previously first with Therapist in 2017.

Nautilus came from the far outside to forge an early lead ahead of Catman and Wootton Asset, who was pinched back out of the gate but recovered to take up a stalking spot in the clear on the outside. Nautilus ran a quarter in 25.33 seconds and a half in 51.23, with Pivotal Mission saving ground along the rail in fourth. Catman wrested the lead from Nautilus at the top of the stretch and set down for the wire, but Wootton Asset would not relent and raced alongside, only to come up short.

Kidnapped was 1 ¼ lengths back in third, a half-length ahead of narrow favorite Pivotal Mission in fourth. It was the third runner-up finish of the day for trainer Graham Motion, who also finished second in the $100,000 Selima for 2-year-old fillies with Invincible Gal and the $150,000 Gallorette (G3) for females 3 and up on the grass with Varenka.

Catman, a bay son of champion runner and sire Kitten’s Joy, debuted running last of 10 July 18 at Saratoga. He was one of two horses left behind the gate when a mechanical malfunction caused it to prematurely open on opening day of the Kentucky Downs meet Sept. 7, resulting in a no-contest. Five days later, Catman closed to be second by a head in a one-mile maiden special weight.

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The Futurity has a rich history dating back to 1921 inaugural winner Morvich, who would go on to win the 1922 Kentucky Derby. The Futurity has also been won by Triple Crown champions Affirmed, Citation and Secretariat along with Barbaro, Spectacular Bid, Tapit, In Reality, Honest Pleasure and Quadrangle.

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From its 1921 debut through 1965, the Futurity was run at Pimlico before being moved to Laurel Park in 1966. Before this year, it returned to Pimlico in 1979 and 2004.

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