Skyway’s victory in the Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar gave trainer Mark Casse and jockey Stewart Elliott their initial stakes score at the seaside oval.
Skyway gamely withstood the late stretch challenge of fast-closing Henry’s Holiday to win the $200,000 Best Pal Stakes Sunday before a crowd of 14,204.
“I was just wanting any win, but to do it in a Grade 2 is very special,” said Casse. “As long as horses run good, that’s all you can ask for. Any other place if I go 0-for-10 – at Woodbine it happens all the time – people would have been yelling for me to go back home. At New York it would have happened about five starts ago. But here, everybody’s been wonderful. ”
A New York-bred son of Sky Mesa, Skyway won by 1 ¼ lengths over Henry’s Holiday with Bad Read Sanchez another length back in third and 2 ¼ lengths in front of Highway Boss in the field of seven two-year-olds. Conquest Bigluck E and Rowdy Dylan were scratched.
For Casse, campaigning at Del Mar for the first time with a home base in Toronto, Canada, it was his first victory at the seaside track.
Skyway, the 2-1 favorite owned by John Oxley, ran the 6 ½ furlongs in 1:16.67 and returned $6.20, $3.60 and $2.80 while earning a prize of $120,000 with his second win in three starts. After breaking his maiden at Keeneland in early April, the colt was third in the Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs June 28. His bankroll now is $157,390.
The Best Pal is the major steppingstone to the Grade 1 $300,000 Del Mar Futurity at seven furlongs on closing day, Sept. 3.