Daniel Alonso is very much a bargain hunter when he attends sales in search of racing prospects. He sure found one when he paid $37,000 for an Exaggerator colt that failed to meet his reserve at the 2021 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. spring sale of 2-year-olds in training.
Alonso, 48, participates in a family business started by his father, Amancio, that focuses on fuel distribution and commercial real estate in South Florida. He typically has a handful of horses in training with Saffie Joseph Jr. at Gulfstream Park.
Alonso, born in Miami, named the Exaggerator juvenile Skippylongstocking. He watched with delight last year as the once-overlooked horse far exceeded expectations. The multiple Grade 3 winner finished a wide fifth in the 2022 Preakness Stakes and a game third in the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets.
Skippylongstocking’s record stands four wins, one second, and three thirds from 14 races overall with $777,810 in purse earnings. He looks to be a major player in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes on Jan. 28 at his Gulfstream Park home base. He prepped for that 1 1/8-mile contest with a two-length decision against Pioneer of Medina in the Dec. 31 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream.
Alonso discussed his diamond in the rough and their Pegasus prospects during a question-and-answer session conducted by Tom Pedulla on behalf of America’s Best Racing.
PEDULLA: How were you introduced to racing?
ALONSO: My dad still goes to the track every Saturday. I started going to the track with my dad. It’s a family affair. The whole family is involved. We watch our horses run and have a good time with it.
PEDULLA: How many horses do you have?
ALONSO: Skippy makes five.
PEDULLA: How long have you been an owner?
ALONSO: I got my license in 2015.
PEDULLA: Is it safe to say that Skippy is the best horse you’ve had?
ALONSO: Far and away. It’s been a great ride for us. We’ve really enjoyed it. We’ve been in the lower-level claiming ranks with an occasional allowance horse and maybe a lower-level stakes horse.
PEDULLA: How did you acquire Skippy?
ALONSO: It was at the April OBS sale in 2021. It just kind of worked out. We had been there a couple of days and bid on stuff and never got anything. Saffie was very familiar with his [dam (mother)], Twinkling. He had no issues physically. He just didn’t go for what they were asking
PEDULLA: When did you start to think you might have something good?
ALONSO: After our first race, Saffie said ‘I think we might have something good here.’ Once he broke his maiden and the allowance was a really impressive win, we thought, ‘We have a pretty solid horse here.’ And he’s continued to improve.
PEDULLA: What was it like to compete in your first Triple Crown races?
ALONSO: It was amazing. We had been to these races as spectators. We’ve never been able to experience it as owners. We took a group of family and friends and we had a blast. The way we cheered when he finished third in the Belmont, you would have thought we had won it.
PEDULLA: What can you say about the training job Saffie and his staff have done?
ALONSO: He’s done an amazing job. We’ve been really happy with Saffie. His whole organization, his team, they’re real professionals. They care for the horses and they put them in the right spot. We’re really happy with Saffie. He’s very good to work with.
PEDULLA: What would it mean to you and your family if you should win the Pegasus?
ALONSO: We’re here. It’s home. It’s a great honor for us to be able to run. It’s where my dad goes every weekend. He can run with these guys.
PEDULLA: Where does the name come from?
ALONSO: When we were in college [at Florida International University], guys used to just call each other Skippy. We looked at Skippy with different endings and thought this one was funny.
PEDULLA: What plans do you have for Skippy after the Pegasus?
ALONSO: Obviously, we’d really like to get him a Grade 1 win. We’re going to see what happens in the Pegasus. If he runs well and comes out of the race well, we might send him overseas [for the Saudi Cup or Dubai World Cup, if invited] or wait for some Grade 1s coming up in a few months at Churchill [Downs] and some other places. He won’t run as much this year. He worked pretty hard last year.
PEDULLA: He comes off a nice win in the Harlan’s Holiday. Do you think he might be improving with age?
ALONSO: Look, I hope so. He looks like a different horse. He’s always been a very fit, lean horse. He’s put on muscle, he’s put on weight, which is what you want to see from 3 to 4. If he goes forward even a little, we’re going to be able to compete in these big races.
PEDULLA: Can he win the Pegasus?
ALONSO: No one ever said he’s the most talented or the biggest or the fastest horse. But he shows up and anything is possible. It’s a race, right?