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FRANKLIN, KY – Calumet Farm homebred Gear Jockey sat a close stalking trip early, then took command with a 1/4-mile to go and drew away to win Saturday’s $1 million FanDuel Turf Sprint Stakes (G3) at Kentucky Downs.
The FanDuel Turf Sprint is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Gear Jockey receiving an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar this November.
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Breaking cleanly from post 4 under Jose Lezcano, Gear Jockey tracked outside the right hip of Bombard, hustled to the lead under Flavien Prat before posting opening fractions of :22.38 and :45.14.
Ranging up to challenge as the field rounded the wide bend, Gear Jockey took over as they passed the 1/4 pole and pulled away quickly from his host of pursuers to win the 6-furlong firm turf dash by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:07.90.
The final time trounced Hold the Salt’s previous course record of 1:09.15 set when winning the 2008 edition of this race.
A 10/1 longshot on the morning line, Gear Jockey was bet down to 5/1 and third choice by post time, hinting that the Rusty Arnold trainee was live.
“He’s been working good,” Lezcano said. “”He broke right on top and I let him follow (Bombard), and when I asked him at the 3/16 (pole), he took off again. At the 1/4 (pole), he had already taken me there, but at 3/16, I had to ask him because no one was coming and he might hang and fool around. The whole way, he gave me the feeling that I had so much horse. When I asked him, he really kicked on.”
After stalking from third early, Diamond Oops hustled up late for second in a tight photo finish over Bombard, Fast Boat, Casa Creed, 7/2 favorite Got Stormy (the lone mare against 11 males in the field), and Front Run the Fed.
“Today, they were just a little too fast for her, but she’s fine (after the race),” said Got Stormy’s trainer Mark Casse, who was using this race as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). “We knew this was a tall task, but this will get us ready for the Breeders’ Cup. And so everything for us was timing and getting a good race into her. I just felt like … this was really the race (to use as a prep) and I knew that it would be a tall task, but I’m proud of her.”
Chewing Gum, Stubbins, Imprimis, Siem Riep, and Born Great completed the order of finish. Johnny Unleashed scratched as an Also Eligible.
Gear Jockey’s win was his first in a stakes and followed a late-running third behind Fast Boat in the 5 1/2-furlong Troy Stakes (G3) at Saratoga on August 6. The 4-year-old Twirling Candy colt’s record improved to 15-4-2-5 (including 12-4-2-5 on grass) with $902,875 earned.
Gear Jockey returned $13.40 to win, $7.20 to place, and $5.40 to show. Diamond Oops brought back $19.20 to place and $11.40 to show. Fast Boat paid $5.40 to show.
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