Saturday’s $100,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint was only the second race following a 13-month layoff for X Y Jet but, just like his first start back, the six-year-old gray easily proved best as the favorite under regular rider Emisael Jaramillo.
The jockey hustled X Y Jet out of the gate to take an uncontested lead down the backstretch. They were never challenged as X Y Jet extended his margin with every stride to eventually cruise under the wire a 5 1/2-length winner.
“I always knew he was a runner. I always thought he was one of the best sprinters two years ago,” trainer Jorge Navarro said.
Campaigned by Rockingham Ranch and Gelfenstein Farm, X Y Jet paid $3.60 and completed six furlongs over Gulfstream Park’s fast main track in 1:09.86. Sheikh of Sheikhs was pulled up in the stretch and walked off.
X Y Jet made his return on December 23 in the Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) over the same course and distance. The gelded son of Kantharos recorded a half-length win that day, his first since taking the 2016 Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3). That race capped a five-race win streak that began in 2015 and included the 2016 Sunshine Millions Sprint.
X Y Jet took a trip across the Atlantic following the Gulfstream Park Sprint for Dubai World Cup Day, and just missed by a neck in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-G1) in March 2016. He finished fifth in the Vosburgh Stakes (G1) over a muddy track upon his return stateside, then was third in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) at Laurel Park during the fall.
Surgery for a knee injury kept the Florida-bred sidelined until his Mr. Prospector return, and X Y Jet now shows a 19-8-6-2 career line to go along with $920,813 in lifetime earnings.
“Hopefully, he comes back clean,” Navarro said in reference to X Y Jet undergoing three knee surgeries thus far. “He hasn’t taken a bad step or anything, so hopefully he stays that way.”
Plans call for the gelding to return to Dubai, and he’s expected to follow the same path as before and target the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) on March 3.
Kicking off the Sunshine Millions action, Jay’s Way led nearly every step of the way to record at half-length victory over even-money favorite Mr. Jordan in the $200,000 Classic.
The Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc. colorbearer took command from the start and established splits of :23.43, :47.50 and 1:11.30 under jockey Emisael Jaramillo. Richard the Great kept pressure on Jay’s Way, and Mr. Jordan moved up to challenge rounding the turn.
The favorite stuck his head in front but Jay’s Way refused to yield, fighting back along the inside to regain control and be in front on the wire to stop the clock in 1:50.12 for nine furlongs on the fast dirt.
The Armando De La Cerda-trained dark bay paid $10 as the 4-1 third choice, and improved his lifetime record to read 20-6-5-2, $345,456, with this first career stakes score.
“The last time he ran, I told Jaramillo try to go to the front because that’s the way he likes it,” De La Cerda said. “This time, the same thing. Jaramillo said, ‘I guess I’ve got to go in front.’ I said, ‘Yeah, try to push him and go in front. Everything worked out. Jaramillo rode him perfect.”
Anne D. Scott’s Galleon Mast gutted out a head win in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard.
The duo bided their time near the rear of the seven-horse field as Charlie Mops set the pace up front. Galleon Mast began his move rounding the final bend, entered the fray four wide and just got up to stick his head in front of new leader Our Way on the wire.
“Perfect. That’s all I can say. It’s all about timing with this horse and (Ortiz) did an excellent job,” trainer David Fawkes said. “You saw the last jump or two, the other horse was coming back at him. As soon as he makes the lead he likes to stop.”
“I had horse. I was just waiting there. I know when I ask him, he’s going to be there for me,” Ortiz said. “I just didn’t want to make the lead to early. I was confident. I knew he was going to be there for me. Every time I asked him a little bit more and more, so we were in good shape.”
Sent off the 6-5 favorite, Galleon Mast was worth $4.60 while finishing 1 1/16 miles over the firm turf in 1:40.68. The gray gelding finished second in the Millions Turf Preview to Enterprising, who scratched from this spot, and now boasts a 22-8-6-4, $404,655 career mark.
“He’s just so easy,” Fawkes said. “He’s a good horse. No matter what anyone says, good horses are easy.”
Kevin Attard and Soli Mehta’s Starship Jubilee lived up to her even-money favoritism when collaring pacesetter Daddy’s Boo in the lane of the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf to secure a one-length triumph.
Jose Lezcano guided the Attard-trained five-year-old mare, who rated behind the leader along the inside before angling out and reeling in Daddy’s Boo. Starship Jubilee settled in that spot until turning for home when asked for more, dueled briefly, but came out on top in a final time of 1:41.03 for 8 1/2 furlongs on the firm green.
“The trip set up perfectly. (Lezcano) had her in a great spot and saved ground,” Attard said. “I was worried about (Daddy’s Boo) kind of getting an easy lead and being a hard horse to run down. She’s also a winning machine and you knew she wasn’t going to lay down after kind of having the lead to herself.
“When he angled out and it looked like he still hadn’t kind of asked her, you feel good at that spot. When he got into her she accelerated and got the job done.”
“She’s an easy filly to ride. She broke good and always put me in a good position,” Lezcano said. “When I asked her, she went on. It’s not too hard to ride a filly like her.”
The bay daughter of Indy Wind earned her first win here since dead-heating for the victory in the Dance Smartly Stakes (Can-G2) at Woodbine last July. She followed that with a fifth in the Sky Classic Stakes (Can-G2), a third-placing in the Canadian Stakes (Can-G2) and another third in Gulfstream’s Claiming Crown Tiara to round out the year on December 2.
“She came here for the Claiming Crown and I was a little disappointed, but in hindsight I probably should have shipped up a little sooner and let her acclimatize. I thought she tired a little bit last time,” Attard said. “We worked her a little bit harder coming into this spot knowing this was a race we thought she’d be tough in. She definitely loves this course, there’s no doubt about it.”
Starship Jubilee’s scorecard now stands at 18-9-1-2, $385,011.