The decision this summer to emphasize sprinting has paid rapid dividends for Calumet Farm’s homebred Gear Jockey. On Saturday, the four-year-old colt earned an automatic bid to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) in November when taking the $995,500 Turf Sprint (G3) at Kentucky Downs by 2 1/2 lengths.
A pace-pressing second behind Bombard through the opening half-mile, Gear Jockey took over from that rival approaching the furlong pole and drew off under Jose Lezcano to win in course-record time of 1:07.90 for six furlongs on firm ground. Trained by Rusty Arnold, Gear Jockey paid $13.40.
“The whole way he gave me the feeling that I had so much horse,” Lezcano said. “When I asked him he really kicked on.”
The next six horses across the wire were separated by less than a length, with 21-1 longshot Diamond Oops gaining second by a nose over Bombard. Fast Boast, Casa Creed, 7-2 favorite Got Stormy, Front Run the Fed, Chewing Gum, Stubbins, Imprimis, Siem Riep, and Born Great completed the order of finish.
This was the first stakes win for Gear Jockey, who placed in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and Bourbon (G3), and in the Canadian Turf (G3) earlier this year over 1 1/16 miles. Shortening up to sprints at the start of the Saratoga meet, Gear Jockey captured a 5 1/2-furlong allowance on July 17 and, three weeks later, finished third in the Troy (G3) after a slow start. His record now stands at 15-4-2-5, $902,875.
Bred in Kentucky, Gear Jockey is by Twirling Candy and out of Switching Gears, by Tapit.
Ladies Sprint (G3)
In Good Spirits registered her first stakes win in seven attempts when prevailing by two lengths in the $563,100 Ladies Sprint (G3).
Drawn widest in post 12 after drawing in from the also-eligible list In Good Spirits was quick to start and rated in third, two lengths off the lead, through the opening half-mile. In behind long-time leader Lagertha approaching the eighth pole, In Good Spirits dove inside that rival in search of fresh ground and drove clear to win under John Velazquez.
“She scared me a little bit today because she was a little too close. I didn’t want to be that close,” Velazquez said. “She broke so good. I had to wrestle her back a little bit to get her off the horses. Then she settled well.”
Owned by Bal Mar Equine and trained by Al Stall, In Good Spirits returned $31.80 after covering 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.35.
Catch a Bid came late to grab second from Lagertha, who was followed by Superstition, Constantia, Violenza, Jeanie B, Gogo Shoes, Yes It’s Ginger, even-money favorite Venetian Harbor, Jakarta, and Our Musical Moment.
Third in the Regret (G3) and Pago Hop S. last season, the four-year-old In Good Spirits was most recently second in the July 24 Caress (G3) at Saratoga following a 3 1/2-month break. Her record now stands at 13-4-2-2, $567,272.
“We like her around one turn and a stiff 6 1/2 was a good thing for her,” Stall said. “She wants to go a little further, seven or a flat mile around one turn, also. That looks like her little niche once we shortened her up. She’s got a little bit more of a punch than she did going two turns. She’s got some class. She’s a fresh horse. We’re looking forward to her five-year-old year.”
Bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet and a $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling, In Good Spirits is by Ghostzapper and out of Mon Arch Lass, by Arch.
Franklin Simpson S. (G2)
Newly gelded and recently arrived from Europe, The Lir Jet earned the second Grade/Group 2 win of his career in the $413,700 Franklin-Simpson S. (G2) for three-year-olds.
Under Tyler Gaffalione, The Lir Jet rallied from midpack to win the 6 1/2-furlong dash by 1 3/4 lengths for Qatar Racing and Racehorse Club. Now trained by Brendan Walsh, The Lir Jet finished up in 1:15.38 and paid $19.60.
“I hadn’t had him a very long time, but he came to me in very good shape, made my job very easy,” Walsh said. “We just took him over when he got off the plane, and here we are. I thought he was very impressive. It looked like he was always in control, got a great ride. It worked out great.”
In a tight finish involving the next five horses under the wire, Easy Time edged Fauci for second by a nose, with fourth-place Into the Sunrise the same margin ahead of Miss Amulet. County Final, 2-1 favorite Point Me By, Annex, Bodenheimer, Omaha City, and Next completed the order of finish.
The Lir Jet set a course record winning his debut at Yarmouth, England, in June last year, then came back on short rest to beat Golden Pal a neck in the Norfolk (G2) at Royal Ascot. Second by a nose in the Prix Robert Papin (G2) and third in the Phoenix (G1), The Lir Jet failed to stay the mile in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) in his lone prior trip to the U.S.
A close third in his 2021 season debut, the Greenham (G3) at Newbury, The Lir Jet was well beaten in his final three starts in England. His record improved to 11-3-2-1, $311,066.
Bred in Ireland by Donal Boylan, The Lir Jet is by Prince of Lir and out of Paper Dreams, by Green Desert.