January 24, 2021

Diamond Oops faces difficult title defense in Mr. Prospector

Diamond Oops closed 2019 on a positive note by winning the Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream Park (c) Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography

Mr. Prospector Stakes — Race 10 (4:43 p.m. ET)

The Breeders’ Cup has not been Diamond Oops‘ place to shine, but Gulfstream Park generally has. Possessing a 5-for-8 mark over its main track, the Patrick Biancone-trained gelding looms a major threat to defend his title in Saturday’s $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3).

Winner by a length over Lasting Legacy in last year’s renewal, Diamond Oops entered the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Keeneland off back-to-back wins in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G2) and Phoenix (G2). However, he finished a sixth to longshot Whitmore, a year after being similarly uncompetitive in the Dirt Mile (G1).

“He got a bad draw that day, but he came back good,” said Biancone, referring to Diamond Oops having drawn post 11 in the Sprint.

Wet conditions in New York a couple of weeks ago forced some horses to re-route from the Cigar Mile (G1) to the 7-furlong Mr. Prospector, which has made this edition extremely competitive. Among these were Firenze Fire, who notched the Vosburgh (G2), True North (G2), and General George (G3) earlier this season prior to his last-out third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The veteran 5-year-old makes his Gulfstream debut on Saturday.

“He’s won on seven tracks. Of his 12 wins, seven have been at different tracks,” said owner Ron Lombardi. “I think he likes a harder surface better than a softer surface, so I think Gulfstream will serve him well.”

Grade 1 veteran Mind Control is another who passed on the Cigar Mile, but his form has been relatively lackluster in recent months. Potentially stronger candidates include Sleepy Eyes Todd, victories in the Charles Town Classic (G2) three back and in the Lafayette S. at Keeneland last time over Cigar Mile winner True Timber.

Other notables lining up are Majestic Dunhill, photo-finish winner over his Fall Highweight H. (G3) conqueror Share the Ride in the Bold Ruler H. (G3) two back, and Cool Arrow, who captured the Smile Sprint (G3) over the Gulfstream strip in early September.

The $100,000 Via Borghese Stakes, a 1 3/16-mile grass test for fillies and mares, is the supporting feature on Saturday. The field includes the recent runners-up in the E.P. Taylor (G1), Long Island (G3), and Dowager (G3): Court Return, Traipsing, and Always Shopping, respectively.