June 29, 2022

Vertical Oak best in Skipat; Imprimis remains unbeaten in Jim McKay Turf Sprint

Vertical Oak relished the return to Pimlico and sloppy conditions in the Skipat Stakes (c) Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

After prompting the pace in second, Vertical Oak disposed of slight favorite Ms Locust Point in upper stretch and went on to post a comfortable 1 ½-length decision in the $100,000 Skipat at Pimlico. Owned by J. Kirk and Judy Robison, the Steve Asmussen-trained 4-year-old filly completed 6-furlongs over the sloppy Pimlico oval in 1:10.35 with Ricardo Santana Jr.

The Skipat was one of three listed stakes on Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2) undercard along with the Jim McKay Turf Sprint and Hilltop.

Now a four-time stakes winner, Vertical Oak recorded her first graded tally when taking the Mrs. Preakness (G3) on the Black-Eyed Susan undercard last year and improved to three-for-four on wet tracks. She was exiting a third in her seasonal reappearance, the April 7 Carousel at Oaklawn Park, and the chestnut daughter of Giant Oak has now earned $521,700 from a 15-6-2-2 career line.

Vertical Oak left the starting gate as 6-5 second choice. Startwithsilver rallied for second, a half-length better than 6-5 choice Ms Locust Point. Toby Girl and Luckyallmylife completed the order in a field with four scratches.

Bred in Kentucky by Millennium Farms, Vertical Oak was purchased for $20,000 as a yearling at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale. She’s the lone stakes winner from the multiple stakes-winning Pollard’s Vision mare Vertical Vision.

Imprimis remained perfect when making his stakes debut in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint, rallying to overhaul pacesetter Rocket Heat and draw off to a 5 ¼-length victory. A 4-year-old gelding who didn’t make his career debut until February 2, the Florida-bred son of Broken Vow stepped 5-furlongs over the soft turf in 1:03.81 beneath Irad Ortiz Jr.

The dark bay has now made all four starts at the same distance on turf, breaking his maiden and winning a state-bred entry-level allowance for Timothy Hills before being sold to Breeze Easy LLC and transferred to Joe Orseno. Imprimis was exiting a 4 ¼-length score in an open entry-level allowance tilt on March 24 and has now bankrolled $151,000.

He left the starting gate as the 4-5 favorite among five rivals. Rocket Heat held second by 1 ½ lengths over Oak Bluffs, who was followed by Field of Courage and Vici.

Bred by former owner Craig Wheeler, Imprimis is out of the Put It Back mare Shoppers Return and hails from the immediate female family of Grade 1 winner Miss Shop and Grade 2-winning sire Trappe Shot.

In the $100,000 Hilltop, Souper Striking sped to fore and easily led wire-to-wire as the 7-5 favorite to notch her first stakes triumph. The one-mile turf affair for 3-year-old fillies lost its main draw when 3-5 morning favorite Thewayiam was withdrawn due to the soggy conditions.

A Live Oak Plantation homebred, Souper Striking has now compiled a 9-3-1-3 mark under the direction of Michael Trombetta and earned $141,270. The Florida-bred daughter of Brilliant Speed was making her second stakes attempt, checking in ninth in the March 10 Florida Oaks (G3) in her previous outing, and Julian Pimentel was up as she stopped the teletimer in 1:51.72.

Secret Message never threatened finishing 6 ¼ lengths back of the winner in second and it was another four-length gap to third-placer Peach of a Gal. Stormologist, Judge Lee and Wendy Perfection came next under the wire.