The 63rd running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream Park marks the comeback of X Y Jet, winner of more than $800,000 in his career and a multiple graded stakes winner. X Y Jet won the 2015 edition of the Mr. Prospector, but has been away from the races for 13 months. Nine other horses line up for the Saturday race, including Fire Mission, who is riding a four-race winning streak and shares the same trainer as X Y Jet in Jorge Navarro. First Growth could be formidable in the race as he won the Claiming Crown Express Stakes over the track in his most recent race. Multiple stakes winner Sonic Mule faces older horses for the first time but is another with credentials to succeed, as is recent Millions Sprint Preview winner Quijote. Sweetontheladies is another previous stakes winner and most recently finished second behind Quijote. Other entrants in the Mr. Prospector are Fast Friar, K Wave, Quinientos, and Yourdreamsormine.
Fire Mission has won 16 times in his career, including his last four races in a row. Those were the four best of his career, in which he earned 102, 102, 100, and 104 Equibase Speed Figures. These efforts and figures match up with the other main contenders in the field such as Quijote, who earned the same figure winning a stakes race last month. Fire Mission is being ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, who was aboard for the very first time in his most recent win. That effort on Nov. 26 turned out to be a "key race" from which the third, fourth and seventh horses all returned from to win their next starts, all improving their figures significantly as well. With the ability to stalk probable pacesetter X Y Jet and be in position to take over on the turn or in the stretch, Fire Mission may be the one to beat in this year's Mr. Prospector Stakes.
Quijote is another very tough competitor, evidenced by his record of six wins and three runner-up finishes from 13 career races on fast dirt tracks. Since changing trainers before his start this past May, Quijote has won two of three races, both stakes. The first of those two wins came in the Big Drama Stakes in May with a career-best 109 speed figure. Two races later and following two months off, Quijote won the Millions Preview Stakes with a 104 figure. He is very likely to improve in his second start off the layoff and as a 4-year-old that has yet to peak. Jockey Batista was aboard Quijote for his most recent win and rides once again so we must take Quijote very seriously as a contender to win this race.
First Growth crossed the wire first in seven consecutive races starting in March, including a stakes win in August with a career-best 112 figure. Following a fourth-place effort, First Growth was given three months off and returned with a superb try in the Claiming Crown Express Stakes three weeks ago, powering off to win by 3 ½ lengths with a 108 figure. Jockey Corrales rode First Growth for the first time in the Express and rides again here, and as the horse is another that can race up close to the pacesetter early and take the lead turning for home we must give him a long look at the outcome here.
X Y Jet will most likely go to post as the betting favorite given his record of 6-6-2 in 18 races, with earnings of $801,153, and the fact he is a multiple stakes winner. However, he has not raced since November 2016 and his two efforts last fall after returning from performing in the Dubai Golden Shaheen Stakes were sub-par. As a horse who likes to lead early and coming back from a long layoff, there is little doubt X Y Jet will be in front from the moment the gate opens, but as a low-odds favorite with a number of question marks I have concerns about whether he can beat a number of others who are just as fast and who have run much more recently.
The rest of the field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures, is Fast Friar (106), K Wave (99), Quinientos (101), Sonic Mule (106), Sweetontheladies (101) and Yourdreamsormine (108).