Private Jet Lands Turf Sprint Stakes Win in U.S. Debut
By Ed Gray
HALLADALE BEACH, FL – Private Jet hadn’t seen competition since September 2010 and had never previously raced in the U.S., but the battle-tested 7-year-old gelding did have one very important thing going for him in Sunday’s $60,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint: the back class to overcome his shortcomings, as well as four extremely fast rivals, to pull out a victory in the five-furlong stakes.
A former Group 1 stakes winner in South Africa, where he had captured five of his 10 starts before going to the sidelines with a breathing problem, Private Jet dug deep in the stretch to out-finish even-money favorite, Great Attack, and score by a length under John Velazquez.
The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained gelding ($20.20) ran five-furlongs on turf in 55.48 seconds, earning the first-prize of $36,000 for owner Joseph Brocklebank.
“We’re very proud of him to run like that after such a long layoff,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin by phone from the Palm Meadows Training Center. “He’s only been down here for six days. He had breathing problems and has since had surgery. It’s great to see what he can do when he can breathe.”
Private Jet certainly didn’t have any problems catching his breath in the stretch as he surged to victory while splitting Great Attack and eventual third-place finisher Little Nick on his way to victory. Little Nick, the 9-5 second betting choice ridden by Paco Lopez, set the pace along the backstretch and into the stretch while being pressed along the inside by Marquet Cat and stalked to the outside by Great Attack. After settling off the contested pace, Private Jet had plenty of energy in reserve and powered past the competition. Great Attack and jockey Jeffrey Sanchez finished 1 ¼ lengths clear of Little Nick.
“There was a lot of speed in the race so I didn’t want to get caught in a duel, but it was his first start in this country so I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Velazquez said. “Around the 3/8ths pole, three horses were up close to the front and when I asked my horse we really responded well. It’s nice to ride horses like that when they respond as soon as you ask them.”