Even-money favorite Custom for Carlos overcame the sloppy going at Gulfstream Park in the $98,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (gr. III) Jan. 9, seizing the lead at the top of the lane en route to a three-quarters length victory (VIDEO). Two-time grade II winner Munnings , the morning line favorite, was one of four horses scratched out of the six-fulong event due to the track conditions.
Custom for Carlos finished out of the money in his only prior start on an off-track, which came in an allowance race at Churchill Downs last May, but the 4-year-old son of More than Ready took right to Gulfstream's showery conditions. With Julien Leparoux aboard, Custom for Carlos stalked pacesetter Past the Point on the outside and bid for the lead leaving the turn.
With Presto Change O also challenging on the far outside, it was Custom for Carlos who got the advantage from between horses, inching clear of his two rivals by the eighth pole. With Past the Point coming back along the inside under Egar Prado, Leparoux delivered a couple of right-handed reminders to Custom for Carlos leaving the sixteenth pole and the bay colt held on gamely in a final time of 1:10.07 over the sealed track.
“He broke well and had a nice and easy trip," Leparoux said. "He was always relaxed and we got a good path on the outside."
Past the Point, who posted quarter-mile fractions of :22.72 and :45.37, finished second, 1 3/4 lengths in front of Presto Change O, who was ridden by Jeremy Rose. Starforaday and Make Me Zach trailed.
Winner of the Jersey Shore (gr. III) at Monmouth Park by more than six lengths last July for trainer Eddie Kenneally, Custom for Carlos picked up his second graded score. Owned by Homewrecker Racing and Avalon Farm, Custom for Carlos last raced at Churchill Downs Nov. 21, winning the Bet On Sunshine Handicap by 3 3/4 lengths.
“He trained well for the race and we were expecting him to run well, but he had never even breezed on a sloppy track like this, so you just don’t know how they will handle it, Kenneally said. "I don’t know that he particularly liked it or not, but he’s a class horse and got it done"
Kenneally said a trip to Dubai for the $2 million Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) March 27 is a consideration for Custom for Carlos, although he's never run on a synthetic track before.
"We won the Mr. Prospector a couple of years ago (2007) with Kelly's Landing and two races later he won the Golden Shaheen," he said.
Custom for Carlos registered his fifth lifetime win in 11 starts while boosting his bankroll to $350,630 with the winner's share of $60,000.
David E. Hager II bred Custom for Carlos, who is out of Meadow Oaks, by Meadowlake.
Custom for Carlos toted top weight of 120 pounds and paid $4, $2.60, and $2.10, keying an $11.80 exacta. Past the Point, who was coming off a runner-up effort in the seven-furlong Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct Oct. 31 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, returned $3.20 and $2.40. Second choice Presto Change O was $2.20 to show in his stakes debut for Anthony Dutrow.
Besides Munnings, the other scratches in the Mr. Prospector were Prince Joshua, Gentleman James and Peace Chant.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said he did not want to take a chance with Munnings so early in the season and would look for a better spot for the $1.7-million colt, a 4-year-old son of Speightstown .