Is X Y Jet Vulnerable in the Mr. Prospector Stakes?
The only graded stakes race on the North American racing schedule this Saturday is the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park. Fortunately for bettors, it’s also among the most intriguing races of the day from a handicapping perspective.Ten horses have been entered in the six-furlong sprint, with the probable favorite being #6 X Y Jet. Trained by Jorge Navarro, the brilliantly fast five-year-old gelding embarked on a five-race win streak from September 2015 through February 2016, a streak that included three straight stakes wins at Gulfstream Park. In every race, X Y Jet ran the opening quarter-mile in less than 22 seconds, and on every occasion he won in gate-to-wire fashion—in fact, he won the 2015 Mr. Prospector Stakes by 9 ¼ lengths.
However, following a game runner-up effort in the 2016 Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I), X Y Jet was sidelined by a bone chip in his knee that required surgery. When he returned to action in the fall of 2016, he wasn’t quite the same; though he still had early speed, he couldn’t sustain it and finished fifth in the Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) and third in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (gr. III).
Now X Y Jet will return to the races for the first time in thirteen months, and while his best form would make him difficult to beat, the long layoff and his disappointing efforts beforehand lead me to believe that X Y Jet could be vulnerable to an upset.
I’m tempted to take a shot with #2 Sonic Mule. Trained by Gulfstream’s perennial leading trainer Todd Pletcher, who is off to a hot start at the current meet, Sonic Mule went 2-for-3 at Gulfstream last winter, winning the Buffalo Man Stakes and the Mucho Macho Man Stakes before running third in a quality renewal of the Swale Stakes (gr. II).
Since then, Sonic Mule has been disappointing, but he showed signs of returning to form when finishing third in the seven-furlong City of Laurel Stakes at Laurel Park last month despite a tricky trip. It’s not every day that you can get a price on a Pletcher horse at Gulfstream, and Sonic Mule—if able to bounce back to his best—could be in the mix for victory at impressive odds.
Since I believe there’s a chance that X Y Jet will finish out of the exacta, I’ll play the race with that in mind and seek a big score by boxing Sonic Mule in the exacta with #7 Fire Mission, a Navarro runner that has won four straight races against easier company, and #1 First Growth, who has crossed the wire first in eight of his last nine starts, including the six-furlong Claiming Crown Express at Gulfstream three weeks ago. I’ll also add a win bet on Sonic Mule if he starts at better than 6-1.
$6 to win on #2 Sonic Mule at 6-1 or higher $4 exacta: 1,2,7 with 1,2,7 ($24) Total cost: $30