Despite stumbling badly at the break and being rushed up into contention, Donald Dizney’s homebred Apriority ran down pacesetter Zero Rate Policy to win the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) by a nose Dec. 31 at Gulfstream Park.
It was a game victory for the 4-year-old son of Grand Slam, who broke a five-race losing streak and stayed perfect in three starts at Gulfstream. The Florida-bred colt earned his first graded stakes score. Luis Saez rode Apriority for trainer David Fawkes.
The final time for six furlongs on the fast dirt was 1:09.28.
Breaking from post 1, Apriority nearly fell to his knees at the start while spotting the field a couple of strides. He quickly recovered and was rushed up into contention, racing in fourth for a half mile. With Paco Lopez aboard, Zero Rate Policy led the way through a contested four furlongs, posting splits of :22.20 and :44.74 with Immortal Eyes
and The Hunk
pressing him the whole way.
Zero Rate Policy, sent off at 7-1, inched clear of his two closest rivals when they hit the top of the lane, but Apriority, racing along the inside all the way, was gaining ground. Taking advantage of Saez’ rail-skimming ride, Apriority needed the entire stretch to run down Zero Rate Policy. They head-bobbed to the finish, with Apriority getting the best of the photo.
Zero Rate Policy settled for second, a half-length in front of favored Indiano. Capt. Candyman Can
was fourth in a field of seven.
"He stumbled really badly out of the gate and at that point I thought I had no chance," Saez said. "He did the same exact thing last year. After that, I just tried to wait as long as possible. I was able to come up the rail and when I pushed on him, he came running. He’s an amazing horse to do what he did today.”
Apriority completed his campaign with three wins from nine starts, all at Gulfstream. He won a pair of optional claimers, which were sandwiched around a narrow second-place finish in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita. The bay colt was also runner-up in the grade I Carter Handicap at Aqueduct and grade II Churchill Downs Stakes. He was sixth in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 5.
“I thought we were done at the start after he stumbled so bad," said Fawkes, who won the race earlier in the year with Big Drama. "We’re lucky the jock stayed on. It’s amazing what he overcame to win it. When he got back in contention at the top of the stretch it was a matter of inside, outside. He waited and waited and then made the right choice and got through.
"He grabbed his left front foot inside (bloody when returning to winner’s circle). It appears to be superficial. We’ll see. If everything’s all right he’ll come back in the Sunshine Millions Sprint (Jan. 28).”
With his victory, Apriority upped his record to 5-6-1 from 17 starts and earnings of $371,224. He is out of the Storm Bird mare Midway Squall.
The winner paid $7.20, $4.20, and $3.20. The exacta (1-2) returned $44.60 and the trifecta (1-2-4) was worth $79.40 for $1.