X Y Jet is the top draw on Gulfstream Park’s Saturday program in the $100,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint as the veteran gelding continues his comeback from a knee injury.
The six-furlong affair is the last of four stakes for Florida-breds at Gulfstream Saturday and, due to the presence of X Y Jet, receives top billing despite boasting the lowest purse.
Trained by Jorge Navarro, the six-year-old returns to the site of his 2016 victory in the Sunshine Millions Sprint. X Y Jet scored a front-running win that day by 4 1/4 lengths, then shipped overseas to just miss by a neck in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-G1).
The gray son of Kantharos competed only twice more in 2016, finishing fifth in the Vosburgh Stakes (G1) and third in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3). He suffered a knee injury that required surgery and kept him sidelined for 13 months.
X Y Jet returned to competition on December 23 to take the Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) over track and distance.
“He came out of the race great. He is in great condition. I’m looking forward to seeing him run on Saturday,” said Navarro, who was a bit emotional in the Mr. Prospector winner’s circle.
“It was because of my appreciation for the horse and what he’s done for me and my family,” the trainer said. “He took me to Dubai, I’ll never forget that. Coming off that layoff and to win a stake…”
Is another trip to Dubai awaiting X Y Jet?
“Why not? He seemed to like it,” Navarro said. “We’re going to go step by step, like we did with his last one; he’s ready for this one. We’ll take pictures, make sure everything is the right way. Remember that was his third knee surgery. We’ll baby him.”
Emisael Jaramillo has been aboard X Y Jet for his past eight races and stays in the saddle Saturday.
The $200,000 Sunshine Millions Classic, the richest of the four-stakes event at Gulfstream, sees Mr. Jordan and Richard the Great face off for the third straight time.
Mr. Jordan dominated the Millions Classic Preview for the second consecutive year last November, easily defeating Richard the Great in second by 11 1/2 lengths. The duo returned a month later in the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3) and Richard the Great cut the margin to only a neck when finishing third to Mr. Jordan’s second in that 1 1/16-mile affair.
However, this time around the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Sunshine Millions Classic is a bit of a concern to Mr. Jordan’s trainer, Ed Plesa Jr.
“My only concern is the distance,” the horseman admitted. “It’s a mile and an eighth – that’s stretching him.
“He came out of his (Harlan’s Holiday) race 100 percent. I think he’s as good as ever. We won’t be able to tell until Saturday if he’s better than ever. I was impressed with his last race because he had to run the whole distance. He didn’t get any kind of a breather,” Plesa added.
Edgard Zayas has the return call on Mr. Jordan while trainer Stanely Gold will give a leg up to Paco Lopez on Richard the Great.
Grade 2 hero Enterprising, multiple stakes winner Galleon Mast and recent claimer Charlie Mops finished in that order in the Millions Turf Preview last year, and the trio return for the main event on Saturday, the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf.
Enterprising capped off his six-year-old campaign in the Millions Turf Preview after beginning 2017 with a neck second in the Sunshine Millions Turf. The Mike Maker-trained gelding followed up with a pair of wins in the Fair Grounds Handicap (G3) and Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2) at Fair Grounds.
After a couple of subpar stakes attempts as a juvenile, Galleon Mast returned to the black-type ranks in 2017 to capture the Eight Miles East Stakes, The Vid Handicap and Mr. Steele Stakes before finishing second in the Millions Turf Preview.
Charlie Mops has actually finished third in the Millions Turf Preview for the past two years, and recently was claimed by Loooch Racing Stables. He’ll start in this spot for new trainer Peter Walder.
The Sunshine Millions Turf also features the winners from the past two years in Our Way, who captured this race in 2017 before making just three more starts, and Manchurian High, the 2016 victor who returns to flat racing after breaking his maiden in the steeplechase ranks last November.
The $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf attracted a nice field of 10 distaffers to go 8 1/2 furlongs on the green at Gulfstream.
Starship Jubilee was claimed last February at the track and, after winning a trio of races at Gulfstream, headed north across the border to Woodbine to add the Nassau Stakes (Can-G2) and Dance Smartly Stakes (G2) to her resume.
The Kevin Attard mare also finished third in the Canadian Stakes (G3) and enters the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf off a third-placing in the Claiming Crown Tiara.