Rashard Lewis and Jake Ballis’ 4-year-old Cigar Street
shed a little
brightness on to a theretofore disappointing Saturday afternoon for Hall
of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s powerful stable when he posted his third
consecutive victory in the $100,000 Skip Away Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream
Park to give jockey John Velazquez his fourth victory on the card.
While Mott was in Dubai saddling two-time champion mare Royal Delta
to a 10th-place finish in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G`1) and
Miami Heat forward Rashard Lewis was on a road trip with the team,
assistant trainer Ken McCarthy saddled Cigar Street for a two-length
victory over WinStar Farm and Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s 2012 Florida
Derby (G1) hero Take Charge Indy in the 1 3/16 miles test.
“This helps,” said McCarthy. “It was a little rough for us (Mott
stable) watching Dubai earlier and then some of our other horses here
today didn’t perform up to expectations. We’ve always thought a lot of
“Johnny (Velazquez) let him run a little bit out of the gate early
to get position for the first turn and then he went on from there to
beat some very nice, more seasoned horses like Pat Byrne’s (Take Charge
Indy). I think he’ll probably go to Kentucky from here.”
Take Charge Indy set the pace from the start in the Skip Away with
Cigar Street stalking in third up the backstretch and into the far turn
before rallying alongside. From the top of the stretch it was a
two-horse race to the finish after Lori and George Hall’s Pants On Fire
retired to third after prompting the pace, 6 ¾ lengths behind the
A son of Street Sense, Cigar Street paid $5.60 for $2 to win as the
favorite and was timed in 1:56:84 over the ‘fast’ track. Cigar Street
had won two allowance races earlier for Mott after making three starts
last year, including a fourth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2.
The Skip Away was Cigar Street’s first stakes victory.
"There are no limits to this horse,” said Velazquez. “He's doing
everything really well. With every race he's stepping up more and more.
He has a big future so hopefully he stays sound."