The Grade 3, $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream Park might appear at first to be a battle between Imperial Hint, a multiple graded stakes winner who was last seen winning the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes, and speedball X Y Jet, winner of the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen Stakes in the spring. However, three of the other four lined up enter the race off strong victories, including Lasting Legacy, winner of the similarly named non-graded Mr. Prospector Stakes in September. Zenden makes his second start off more than six months off and won powerfully last month so must be respected, as must five-time winner Home Base. Diamond Oops, who won the Grade 3 Smile Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream this past summer, rounds out an exceptionally talented group of sprinters in this field.
Three-year-old Zenden can post the upset in this year's Mr. Prospector Stakes. Zenden broke his maiden at first asking at Gulfstream in the fall of 2018 then three months later earned his second win in as many starts when victorious in the Buffalo Man Stakes also over the track. Second in the Swale Stakes at this seven furlong trip last February, Zenden didn't run nearly as well when fourth and eighth in a pair of two-turn races in March and April. Given more than six months off, Zenden returned last month after moving to the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher and ran the best race of his career, leading from start to finish and earning a strong 113 Equibase Speed Figure. Although likely favorites Imperial Hint (120 and 125 recent figures) and X Y Jet (121 and 119 top figures) have run faster, Zenden is just a 3-year-old and therefore has a lot of potential to improve and run as well as either of the favorites. As such, I think he has a legitimate shot to post the upset in the Mr. Prospector Stakes.
Imperial Hint has shown the ability to win when leading from the start and also when stalking the pacesetters from as far back as fourth in the early stages. He fires best off rests like the one he's coming back from in this race, having won the Vanderbilt Handicap in July with a 125 figure and running similarly well in September to take the Vosburgh Stakes (for the second year in a row) with a 121 figure. Although X Y Jet has had the lead from the start in almost every one of his last 10 races, the STATS Race Lens pace projection suggests Imperial Hint will be in front of X Y Jet in the early stages. That is entirely possible given Imperial Hint is drawn inside of X Y Jet in the gate. No matter the pace scenario, if Imperial Hint repeats either of his last two efforts and if X Y Jet isn't up to the task and Zenden doesn't take a leap forward, Imperial Hint could emerge with his 15th career victory.
X Y Jet is just plain fast, and he likes to win as well. With a record of 12 victories in 25 races and more than $3 million in career earnings, X Y Jet has done nearly everything asked of him. He has won half of his 14 career starts at Gulfstream Park as well, including last year's Mr. Prospector Stakes. Last seen in March winning the Golden Shaheen Stakes in Dubai, X Y Jet was entered to run in the Breeders' Cup Sprint but was scratched due to a blister on his hoof. Since then, X Y Jet has been in steady training and appears ready for another A effort good enough to win, particularly if he repeats the 121 figure earned in the Golden Shaheen.
Lasting Legacy earned a career-best 111 figure when last seen winning the non-graded Mr. Prospector Stakes at Monmouth in September. He's on an improving pattern of figures and is handled by high percentage trainer Jason Servis so is not without a chance. Home Base earned a career-best 106 figure winning last month at Churchill Downs and may be a bit overmatched but does have a stalking style which may benefit from an early pace duel. Diamond Oops proved he belongs in top company when second in both the Vanderbilt Handicap (behind Imperial Hint) and in the Shadwell Turf Mile recently, and although a well-beaten eighth in the Big Ass Fans Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in his most recent start has a shot if able to run back to the 116 figure effort from the Vanderbilt.
X Y Jet