Rockingham Ranch and Gelfenstein Farm’s X Y Jet turned Saturday’s $100,000 Pelican S. at Tampa Bay Downs into a virtual workout in company for the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1).
The 2-5 favorite as the unambiguous class of the field, the Jorge Navarro trainee broke on top with Emisael Jaramillo and widened his margin at every call. X Y Jet blitzed through fractions of :21.81, :44.41, and :56.41 en route to completing six furlongs in 1:09.17.
Although not endangering It’s Me Mom’s track record of 1:08.67, he was just .03 away from the Pelican stakes record. And X Y Jet was far faster than Just Be Kind’s time of 1:10.59 in the Minaret for fillies and mares two races later. Jaramillo swept both stakes on the card.
“He’s feeling better than ever,” Jaramillo said. “His ability is from the gate to the wire.”
Jaramillo kept X Y Jet to task in the stretch, as Navarro explained.
“It’s not because the horse was getting tired,” the trainer said. “This horse wants competition. Once he puts them away, that’s when he gets lazy on us.
“He has not been an easy horse to train. He has great ability, but he can have a horrible temper. (Jaramillo) said he didn’t want to take a chance – if he’s going to win, make sure he’s going to win.”
X Y Jet has also had left knee problems that required three surgeries. Sidelined after a heartbreaking loss in the 2016 Dubai Golden Shaheen to Muarrab, the gray was below form in two outings that fall and shelved again. He returned from a 13-month layoff to regain his title in the December 23 Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream, which he’d first won in 2015, and did the same in the January 20 Sunshine Millions Sprint. His Tampa excursion made it three-for-three since his comeback.
“He’s ready to run with any sprinter in the nation,” Navarro said, adding why he chose to give him one more run before another tilt at Dubai.
“I didn’t want to work him six times. He’s an athlete, and if he takes one bad step, all the dreams are over. I had a lot (of anxiety). But he’s an amazing horse. As soon as he felt Recruiting Ready next to him (heading up the backstretch), that’s when he took off.”
Recruiting Ready paid for chasing X Y Jet early, ultimately fading to sixth. Closers fared better to get up for the minors, as the 16-1 Jaguar Poz took second from 17-1 Divine Ambition. Flashy Kyem, who took over the chasing role from Recruiting Ready, tired to fourth.
In 2016, X Y Jet prepped in the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) a month ahead of World Cup night. With the Gulfstream option being on March 3 this year, 28 days before the Shaheen, the Pelican gives him an extra two weeks.
“He wants to go to Dubai. We want a vacation,” Navarro smiled. “We did the right thing coming here today, and now we’re ready for Dubai.”
The Florida-bred son of Kantharos stands to become a millionaire in the desert, for he’s on the brink with earnings of $990,813 from a 20-9-6-2 line.