Rockingham Ranch and Gelfenstein Farm’s X Y Jet is slated to seek his sixth straight stakes victory over the Gulfstream Park track Saturday, when the Jorge Navarro-trained gelding will be heavily favored in the $250,000 Smile Sprint (G3).
X Y Jet is set to make his first start in the six-furlong sprint since finishing second behind Mind Your Biscuits in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) at Meydan March 31 on Saturday’s 14-race Summit of Speed program that will also feature the $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2).
The 6-year-old son of Kantharos, who is scheduled to meet seven rivals Saturday, set the pace into deep stretch in the Golden Shaheen before coming up a head short of holding off Mind Your Biscuits.
“I couldn’t ask for more, finishing second to Mind Your Biscuits, a top horse, a quality horse,” said Navarro, whose stable star also lost a photo finish in the 2016 Golden Shaheen. “For a horse like [X Y Jet] to show up and run like that, I can’t ask for more. Hopefully, we can see him one more time in Dubai.”
X Y Jet returned from an 13-month layoff to capture the Dec. 23 Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park before going on to prepare for his trip to Dubai with victories in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream and the Pelican Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
“The first race in December – that was very amazing, very emotional, beating all the odds. It was 13 months, just waiting for him,” Navarro said. “You know what? Every race he runs, for me, it’s just appreciation for what he does.”
X Y Jet has undergone three knee surgeries during his career and has come back better than ever every time.
“He’s beaten all the odds. He’s not supposed to be here. He’s supposed to be retired. I guess he doesn’t want to be retired,” Navarro said. “He wants to do it. He’s a happy horse right now.”
In addition to his victories in the Mr. Prospector and Sunshine Millions Sprint during the 2017-2018 Championship Meet, X Y Jet rolled to triumphs in the Mr. Prospector, Sunshine Millions Sprint and Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) prior to his 2016 trip to Dubai.
Should X Y Jet capture the Smile, the gray speedster will have a light schedule for the remainder of the year.
“Our plan is to go easy with him and find the right spots. We’re trying to get to the Breeders’ Cup with him,” said Navarro, mentioning the De Francis Dash (G3) at Laurel in October as a possible Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) prep.
Emisael Jaramillo has the mount aboard X Y Jet, who has nine wins and seven second-place finishes in 21 career starts.
As imposing as X Y Jet’s record at Gulfstream may be, he hardly holds a huge home-court advantage over West Coast Thoroughbreds’ Reason to Soar, a winner of all four of his local starts, and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s Classic Rock, who has won six of seven starts over his home track.
George Weaver-trained Reason to Soar, who debuted last year with a 6 ¼-length romp at Gulfstream before spending the rest of his 3-year-old season in New York, is riding a three-race win streak at the Hallandale Beach track. In his most recent start, the son of Soaring Empire shook free of heavy traffic in the stretch just in time to surge to a half-length optional claiming allowance.
“He’s definitely stepped it up. He broke his maiden impressively last year as a 3-year-old at Gulfstream and followed it up with some nice stakes placings. Then, his form tailed off. He wasn’t carrying his weight as well as we wanted him to. He wasn’t traveling the way we wanted him to, so we gave him a break,” Weaver said. “Since he’s come back, he’s been in really good form. He really seems to like Gulfstream.”
Reason to Soar, who followed up his debut victory at Gulfstream with a pair of third-place finishes in stakes for New York-sired horses, will be making his first start in open-stakes company.
“I’m confident that he likes the track. I’m confident that he’s doing well. I’m confident that he’ll go over there and try,” Weaver said. “We have no idea if he’s capable of beating X Y Jet on X Y Jet’s best day. All I know is the horse deserves a chance. I thought the last race he won was a tough race. I didn’t know if he was good enough to win and he jumped up and did it. We’re going to be in the same boat here. We’re going to face some tough horses and moving up in class. All I know is I have a horse that’s doing well and is on a hot streak. We’re hoping he can make that leap for us.”
Tyler Gaffalione has the return mount aboard Reason to Soar.
Kathy Ritvo-trained Classic Rock is also riding a three-race win streak at Gulfstream this year, including a three-length victory in the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) March 3. The 4-year-old son of McLean’s Music, who returned from a layoff of nearly six months to win an optional claiming allowance Dec. 20, is coming off a length triumph in the Jeblar Stakes May 6.
Last year, Classic Rock won three straight races at Gulfstream, including a four-length triumph in the Roar Stakes. After finishing off-the-board in the Woody Stephens (G2) at Belmont and the Carry Back (G3) at Gulfstream, the Kentucky-bred colt went to the sidelines to prepare for his 4-year-old season.
Luis Saez, who has been aboard for Classic Rock’s three victories this year, has the return mount.
David Melin, Leon Ellman and Laurie Plesa’s Mr. Jordan could hardly be regarded as a horse for the Gulfstream Park course after losing his first 12 local starts that did include several stakes-placings. The graded-stakes winner, who is undefeated in four starts at Gulfstream Park West, finally broke through with an impressive 1 ¾-length victory in the Big Drama Stakes May 12 while turning back to seven furlongs.
“I’ve always thought seven-eighths to a mile are his best distances. He equaled his best number in the seven-eighths of a mile race. It’s just circumstances. Sometimes, a guy gets up and swings at a ball and he doesn’t quite hit it. Next time, he gets up and hits a grand slam. It is what it is,” trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said. “Can I argue the fact that his best surface is over at Calder [Gulfstream Park West]? No, I think it is. But is he any different on this track than he is at Monmouth Park or Parx? No, I don’t believe so. He’d hit the board enough times over the Gulfstream surface to let me know he handles it.”
The 6-year-old gelded son of Kantharos, who won the 2015 Pegasus (G3) at Monmouth around two turns, has won nine of 29 races and more than $735.000 in purses.
“He’s like the fine wine that’s aged and gotten better with time. Make no mistakes, this race is a super tough race. If this were a $75.000 or $100,000 race against these horses, I probably wouldn’t run, but it’s a $250,000 race,” Plesa said. “It’s not his best distance, but stranger things have happened.”
Rialto Racing Stables, Southern Spring Stables and Head of Plains Partners’ Petrov is scheduled to make his first start at Gulfstream. The Churchill Downs-based multiple graded stakes-placed son of Flatter will be in search of his first career stakes victory in the Smile.
Ron Moquett-trained Petrov was on the Triple Crown trail last year, finishing second in the Smarty Jones and Southwest Stakes (G3) and fourth in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn before finishing off the board in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Nik Juarez has the mount.
Sweetontheladies, a multiple-stakes winner who finished second behind Classic Rock in the Gulfstream Park Sprint; Mo Cash, a Florida-bred multiple-stakes winner; and Splash Rules, a two-time stakes winner at Gulfstream last year who is set to make his second start off a seven-month layoff, round out the field.