Playing a Newcomer in the Mr. Prospector

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman

It certainly wouldn't be difficult for me to explain why Saturday's $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park is a two-horse race between established stars #2 Imperial Hint and #3 X Y Jet.

Quite simply, these two talented speedsters are by far the most accomplished runners in this seven-furlong dash. Imperial Hint has been a force to reckon with for three years and enters off back-to-back Grade 1 wins in New York. In the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) at Saratoga, Imperial Hint unleashed a powerful burst of speed from off the pace to romp home in the track-record time of 1:07.92. His subsequent triumph in the Vosburgh Stakes (G1) at Belmont wasn't as flashy, but he showed great determination to fight back and win by a nose after being headed in the homestretch.

The delicate X Y Jet has also been impressive this season. Though his career has been interrupted by injuries on many occasions, he showed no signs of wear and tear in the March 30 Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) at Meydan in Dubai, leading all the way to win comfortably while Imperial Hint finished third. Conditioned by Jorge Navarro, X Y Jet has shown a particular affinity for Gulfstream Park, where he has compiled a 14-7-4-1 record. In fact, he won the Mr. Prospector Stakes in 2017 and 2015, back when the race was held over six furlongs.

But concluding that this year's Mr. Prospector is a two-horse race is a rather boring analysis. I wouldn't be afraid to take a boring stand if I were confident in the outcome, but truth be told, I'm not convinced Imperial Hint and X Y Jet have this race surrounded.

For starters, they're both getting older. In just a few weeks, Imperial Hint will be seven and X Y Jet will be eight. For another, they've both dealt with injuries and setbacks through the course of their careers, and both are returning from layoffs. A hoof issue forced Imperial Hint to scratch from the Breeders' Cup Sprint, so he'll enter the Mr. Prospector off a three-month layoff. Meanwhile, X Y Jet hasn't been seen since his victory in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, and Navarro has been cold at Gulfstream so far this winter, going 3-for-40 to start the meet.

Both Imperial Hint and X Y Jet bring solid work tabs to the Mr. Prospector, so their respective layoffs probably aren't huge concerns. But all of their recent races have come over six furlongs, making the seven-furlong distance of the Mr. Prospector a bit of a question mark. This could prove especially true since Imperial Hint has drawn inside of the front-running X Y Jet and the speedy #4 Zenden, setting up the potential for a contested and strenuous pace.

With all of this in mind, I'm going to think outside the box and favor the chances of #5 Lasting Legacy, a lightly-raced five-year-old with just eight starts under his belt.

A stretch-running son of Tapizar, Lasting Legacy has had trouble stringing races together in consecutive fashion. His career has been interrupted by long layoffs on two occasions. But when trained by Jason Servis, Lasting Legacy has gone 5-for-6 and is 3-for-3 in 2019.

Lasting Legacy kicked off his current win streak on June 29 at Monmouth Park. Favored in a six-furlong allowance race, Lasting Legacy broke slowly, but rallied strongly through the final furlong to defeat the next-out winners Dupree and Benefactor in a three-way battle to the finish line.

Two months later, Lasting Legacy beat these same rivals in another six-furlong allowance race, posting an excellent 103 Beyer speed figure. He followed up with a success in Monmouth's version of the Mr. Prospector Stakes, recording a quick time of 1:08.81 that translated to a 101 Beyer.

Lasting Legacy hasn't run since September, but Servis strikes at a 29% rate with runners returning from layoffs of 46-90 days, so there's no reason to doubt Lasting Legacy's fitness for his graded stakes debut. Servis has been especially hot at Gulfstream Park, going 5-for-13 to start the meet, and he's enlisted Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. (a 24% winner at Gulfstream so far) to ride Lasting Legacy for the first time.

From all appearances, Lasting Legacy is improving at the right time, and his late-running style will give him an advantage if Imperial Hint and X Y Jet hook up too soon. One of Lasting Legacy's most impressive victories came in his lone start going seven furlongs back in 2017, so the distance shouldn't be an issue either.

I can't blame anyone for wanting to side with the established stars in the Mr. Prospector Stakes. But Imperial Hint and X Y Jet figure to be heavily supported, setting up a prime opportunity to play an improving horse for hot connections at a fair price. What could be better than that?

Now it's your turn! Who do you like in the Mr. Prospector Stakes?


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J. Keeler Johnson (also known as "Keelerman") is a writer, blogger, videographer, handicapper, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He is the founder of the horse racing website

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