When Louisville-based Skychai Racing claims a horse, the partnership has two things in mind: the next Kentucky Downs race meet and the Claiming Crown. In Special Ops, they have both.
The gelding led virtually all the way for a neck victory over Spring Up in Sunday’s $75,000 Claiming Crown Emerald Stakes Prep at Kentucky Downs, a starter-allowance race for horses who had competed for $25,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2016. As the race winner, Special Ops get an automatic berth in the Claiming Crown Emerald on Dec. 4 at Gulfstream Park.
The Maker-trained Special Ops has proven another savvy claim for Skychai, which in 2015 and 2016 won Kentucky Downs’ $600,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup with their $50,000 claim Da Big Hoss. Special Ops also was claimed for $50,000 out of a June 18 allowance race. He finished third in Indiana Grand’s Warrior Veterans Stakes in his first race off the claim, then took Mountaineer’s West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup before the Kentucky Downs race.
“This is like a stakes,” said Skychai co-founder Dr. Harvey Diamond. “He’s not exactly Da Big Hoss, but he showed he had a lot of guts and class. I was very impressed with him.”
If not Da Big Hoss, could he be da medium hoss? “I don’t think he has that distance ability,” Diamond said. “He’s more miler, mile and a sixteenth. That’s where I’d like to keep him for now. And if Mike can get him to stretch, we’ll do it. Very proud of him.”
Skychai is running Benefactor, bought for $135,000 out of the Fasig-Tipton sale of racehorses, in the Franklin-Simpson. In his only other start for Skychai, the More Than Ready colt led out of the way before finishing fourth in a Saratoga mile turf allowance race. While trained by Todd Pletcher before his sale, Benefactor was second in a small stakes on dirt and third in the Grade 3 Carry Back as part of Gulfstream’s Summit of Speed.
Source: Kentucky Downs