Mr. Prospector 'Apriority' For Fawkes
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - When Big Drama went to post for the Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park last January, the betting public looked forward to an encore performance of the David Fawkes-trained speedster’s thrilling triumph in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).
The odds-on-favorite didn’t disappoint, scoring by open lengths while setting a track record for six-furlongs. Two days later, Big Drama was honored with an Eclipse Award as North America’s champion sprinter.
Apriority will give Fawkes a chance for back-to-back victories in the Mr. Prospector on Sunday, but the running of the six-furlong stakes hardly figures to become the mere formality that it turned out to be for Big Drama.
The abundantly talented Apriority has been winless in his last six starts, but if the 4-year-old son of Grand Slam could very well follow in the footsteps of his old stablemate if he’s up to running back to his best race. That race occurred at Gulfstream Park on March 5, when he rolled to a powerful 4 ½ -length victory over veteran stakes performer Aikenite in a 6 ½ -furlong allowance in a dazzling 1:14 2/5. It was the fifth start since being transferred to Fawkes’ stable and the fourth victory, his only loss coming in a second-place finish behind eventual Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Amazombie in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita.
Following his Gulfstream triumph, Apriority finished second to Morning Line in the Carter (G1) at Aqueduct and second by a nose behind Aikenite in the Churchill Downs Handicap (G2).
“He ran some good races and had some bad luck,” Fawkes said. “He just got nosed out in Kentucky. When we took him out to California, that horse got away from him on the lead. I don’t know what happened; he lost his action going down the backside or something, because he lost so much ground early. Then, he came flying. He’s going to be sprinter of the year, that horse.”
Apriority appeared to be on his way to a huge 2011 season, only to suffer an injury prior to a scheduled start in the Carry Back (G2) on Calder’s Summit of Speed card in July that compromised his performances in subsequent starts, including a wide sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
“We were going into the Summit of Speed and he was doing really, really good. He stepped on his shoe and poked a hole in his foot. It kind of didn’t go that good from that point on, until we got him back here again and got that foot really squared away,” Fawkes said. “He’s really doing good now.”
Although the No. 1 post position can be a disadvantage in a six-furlong sprint, Apriority has some history with coping extremely well with the rail.
“He ran his best race from the rail,” said Fawkes, recalling Apriority’s tour de force on March 5. “It’s not a full field so at least we’ve got a shot to get position.”