A dozen sprinters answer last call in their division Saturday at Gulfstream Park with the Grade 3 $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes. The 7-furlong affair features a 1-2 re-match from last year’s renewal, and will serve as 2020’s final graded stakes race run at Gulfstream Park. The Mr. Prospector is named for the 1970s sprinter who would go on to become one of the most influential stallions of his time.
FIRENZE FIRE and MIND CONTROL both have been Grade 1 winners in previous seasons. DIAMOND OOPS and SLEEPY EYES TODD are Grade 2 winners, while Grade 3 victories have been achieved by COOL ARROW, HAIKAL and MAJESTIC DUNHILL. This is a strong group for the Grade 3 designation and horses like FIRENZE FIRE, MIND CONTROL and DIAMOND OOPS have kept stellar company lines. SLEEPY EYES TODD is right there in the discussion on class.
2019 Mr. Prospector Stakes
1. Lasting Legacy – Ridden by Paco Lopez and trained by Robert Hess. Ran in the Breeders’ Cup last time out which was well above this one’s capabilities. He went off at 75-1 and finished a well beaten 9th place. He did come in 2nd place in this race last year, but his form since then has been trending in the wrong direction with only 1 win in 6 tries and that win came against weak competition.
2. Cool Arrow – Ridden by Edgard Zayas and trained by Terri Pompay. One of the few speed horses in this race which could make him dangerous a little bit. Comes into this race with 3 wins out of 4 races. In 5 starts at the 7 furlong distance he has 1 win and 3 second place finishes so he does like this distance. It’ll depend on the other speed in here, but given he draws the 2 hole he’ll have to fire out of the gate for sure.
3. Wind of Change – Ridden by Leonel Reyes and trained by Amador Sanchez. He has pretty much been no threat in any stakes race thus far, and it appears this race will be the same. He shows some speed, but there is other better speed in this race. Hard to envision this one hanging around til the end.
4. Haikal – Ridden by Luis Saez and trained by Todd Pletcher. Haikal is a good horse, but he’s rarely been able to beat competition this good. He did have a win over Mind Control almost 2 years ago, but neither are the same horse at this point. He will need plenty of pace in front of him to run into, and even then I am not sure he is good enough to beat the other closers.
5. Majestic Dunhill – Ridden by Joe Bravo and trained by George Weaver. Won the Bold Ruler two starts back sitting close to the pace. The next start out he had some trouble in the gate and never really got into the race. Assuming this one can break well he would likely be in good stalking position throughout the race. He could have a shot a nice price. If he breaks slowly and is sitting back then he will have left himself too much to do.
6. Last Judgement – Ridden by Miguel Vasquez and trained by Michael Maker. Was a winner last time out, and while it was against weaker competition, it seems as though trainer Michael Maker got him on track. He ran the highest figure of his career in that victory and Maker is now confident enough to put him in this race. Maybe he was able to figure something out, and has him ready to peak at the perfect time as a longshot.
7. Diamond Oops – Ridden by Julien Leparoux and trained by Patrick Biancone. Had a pair of Grade 2 victories prior to coming in 6th in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He is a very consistent type with 7 wins in 17 career starts. He should be sitting close to the pace, and get a good trip. Draws nicely here in the 7 hole, and has a big shot. Leparoux has ridden this horse plenty in the past including to victory in this race last year.
8. Sleepy Eyes Todd – Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione and trained by Miguel Angel Silva. He had never tried sprinting until the Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland in November. In that race he broke dead last, and absolutely blasted home passing all his rivals en route to an easy victory. He has won on the lead, and he has won coming from last place so the versatility for Gaffalione is going to be a plus here.
9. Firenze Fire – Ridden by Irad Ortiz and trained by Kelly Breen. Scratched out of the Cigar Mile last time out. For the most part Firenze Fire runs the same exact race every time. He will sit just off the pace around 3rd or 4th, and give every ounce of effort down the stretch. Sometimes it’s good (12 wins) sometimes it’s not (30 starts). I don’t see much changing here, and against these it very well could be one of those good times. He has a pair of Grade 2 wins in the last 5 months, and finished a very nice 3rd place in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last time out. He has 3 wins in 6 starts at the mile distance.
10. Ebben – Ridden by Corey Lanerie and trained by Steve Margolis. This is a longshot that has seemingly been getting better as this year goes on. Won 3 races in a row in the middle of the year before trying the Grade 3 Ack Ack and in that race finished 5th but only beaten by 2 lengths. Next time out in the Lafayette he barely lost to both Sleepy Eyes Todd and True Timber. True Timber won the Cigar Mile last time out. So he has been running pretty well. I am not sure if he has enough to win this race, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he ran very well and picked up a minor award.
11. Zenden – Ridden by Robby Albarado and trained by Carlos David. Tried a non-graded $100k stakes race last time out at Laurel and finished 9th of 10. Prior to that he was able to a cheap claiming race, but the form has been poor in 2020. He did run 4th in this race last year, but he was a very different horse at that point. I don’t see Zenden as having much shot in this one drawing from the outside.
12. Mind Control – Ridden by John Velazquez and trained by Gregory Sacco. Mind Control is another one who scratched out of the Cigar Mile. Comes in to this race in very poor form only being able muster a pair of 3rd place finishes in the last 5 races, but he has a ton of back class. At one point just a year ago he won the Grade 1 Alan Jerkins, Grade 3 Toboggan, and Grade 3 Tom Fool. He can absolutely run against this type of competition, but given the stumbles he has had lately it makes him a longshot in this race. Should he return to form though this is a longshot play that could pay big.
1: #8 Sleepy Eyes Todd
2: #7 Diamond Oops
3: #6 Last Judgement
4: #9 Firenze Fire