Skip Away is one of the first horses I can recall watching or hearing about as a young child. Admittedly, I can recall little about him, so I decided to make a post about his awe inspiring career. Let’s take a look back to the 90s at one of the best horses to race in that decade.
Sired by Skip Trial, Skip Away was foaled on April 4,1993. Skip Trial earned $1,837,451 throughout his career while winning 9 Graded Stakes, including 3 Grade 1’s. His best victory came as a three-year-old in the Haskell Invitational. As a sire, Skip Away is far and away his best progeny. Other successful progeny include Grade 2 winner Federal Trial, and millionaire Best of the Rest. Skip Away’s dam is Ingot Way. She was sired by Diplomat Way and earned $66,149 while capturing two minor stakes in her career. Skip Away was far and away her best progeny. She also produced a colt named Seeking The Way, by Seeking The Gold that went on to win $471,650.
Born a beautiful gray colt, Skip Away was foaled in Florida. He was purchased by Hubert “Sonny” Hine for his wife, Caroline. She wanted a gray colt because vision problems made it difficult for her to view horses of other colors on the track. They purchased him for the relatively small amount of $22,500 as a yearling.
As a two-year-old, Skip Away won only a single race from six starts. He did flash some signs of future greatness by placing in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes. His first stakes victory would come as a three-year-old in the Grade 1 Bluegrass Stakes. He won in grand fashion, smashing the field by 6 lengths and setting a new track record of 1:47.20 for the 1 1/8 distance over the wet fast track.
Just as many colts before him Skip Away went into the Kentucky Derby with much hype. He would finish the race far back and without an excuse. He would press on to the Preakness, and a respectable second place finish to Louis Quatorze. Although Skip Away crushed Louis Quatorze in the Blue Grass, he couldn’t catch him this time, as Louis Quatorze would set a new track record. Skip Away would also finish second in the Belmont Stakes after a daring stretch duel with Editor’s Note.
After the Triple Crown races concluded, Skip Away’s connections opted for the Haskell Invitational, a race which his sire had been victorious in. He would take that race and continue forward to the Jockey Club Gold Cup for a rematch with Louis Quatorze, Editor’s Note, and Horse of the Year, Cigar.
Cigar was sent off the heavy 1/5 favorite. Skip Away took the lead as they turned for home, while Louis Quatorze who had relinquished the lead was fading. Jerry Bailey had Cigar fully extended for the drive home in third. Skip Away’s lead slowly diminished as they hit the wire, and he just barely beat Cigar to the finish.
Trouble wasn’t far away for Skip Away. After two inexplicable defeats in the Philip H. Iselin Breeder’s Cup Handicap, and the Woodward Stakes jockey Shane Sellers was replaced by Jerry Bailey. With Bailey in the irons, Skip Away would adopt a front running style and win 9 consecutive races. Under another new jockey, Mike Smith, Skip Away would leave his greatest mark on racing.
Jerry Bailey wasn’t able to ride Skip Away in the 1997 Breeders Cup Classic, due to an obligation to ride another horse. Due to this, Mike Smith was given the mount. Facing the likes of Deputy Commander and Touch Gold, Skip Away would crush the competition in the Breeders Cup Classic. Unchallenged throughout, he would go on to win by 6 lengths and set a track and race record time of 1:59.16 for the 1 ¼ distance.
Skip Away would race a five-year-old claiming victory in five Grade 1’s, including the Hollywood Gold Cup, Pimlico Special, and Woodward Stakes. He was retired after his loss in the 1998 Breeders Cup Classic. Skip Away ended his career with $9,616,360 in earnings. He was named Champion Three-Year-Old in 1996, Champion Older Male Horse in 1997 and 1998, and Horse of the Year in 1998. He concluded his career with a race record of 38: 18-10-6.
As a sire Skip Away has had a fair amount of success. His most successful progeny is Crystal Violet, who was raced in Japan. In 2001, Gulfstream Park honored Skip Away by changing the name of the Broward Handicap, to the Skip Away Handicap. Skip Away has left a lasting mark on horse racing. Not only was he one of the best horses of his generation, Skip Away is one of the last great horses to race through their five-year-old campaign. Racing needs more horses like Skip Away.