Munnings , a sharp winner of consecutive grade II races last year, kicks off his 2010 campaign in the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 9.
The Mr. Prospector is part of the inaugural "Gulfstream Sprint Showcase" program -- five stakes worth $475,000. The six-furlong event for older horses has been captured in recent years by such accomplished sprinters as Cajun Beat, Kelly’s Landing and Noonmark. Nine were entered for the 2010 renewal, including graded III victor Custom for Carlos .
Owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith and trained by Todd Pletcher, the 4-year-old Munnings showed flashes of brilliance during his sophomore season.
The Speightstown colt romped to a 5 1/4-length victory over fellow 3-year-olds in the Woody Stephens (gr. II) at Belmont Park on the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) undercard in June, then toyed with three older rivals in Belmont's Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II) July 5, winning by 2 1/4 lengths. He completed the 2009 season with three consecutive third-place finishes against grade I company under sloppy conditions -- the 1 1/8-mile Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, Saratoga's King's Bishop, and the Vosburgh Stakes back at Belmont, his most recent effort on Oct. 3.
Out of the Holy Bull mare La Comete, Munnings was bred in Kentucky by Dan Tayloe and Glencrest Farm. He was purchased for $1.7 million at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Florida select 2-year-olds in training sale.
Munnings, the high weight at 122 pounds, drew post 4 for his Gulfstream debut and will be ridden by regular pilot John Velazquez. Overall, the chestnut brings a 3-2-4 record in 10 starts into the Mr. Prospector, with earnings of $617,240.
Custom for Carlos, owned by Homewrecker Racing and Avalon Farm, has been on the sidelines since a 3 3/4-length triumph in the Bet On Sunshine Handicap at Churchill Downs Nov. 21. Trained by Eddie Kenneally, the 4-year-old More Than Ready colt romped to a 6 1/4-length win over a trio of 3-year-old opponents in the six-furlong Jersey Shore (gr. III) July 5, clocking an excellent time of 1:08.19.
“He’s a quality horse and worked well for the race,” said Kenneally on the morning of Jan. 6 from his Palm Meadows headquarters. Custom for Carlos drilled a bullet half-mile in 48-flat there on Jan. 4, fastest of 41 timed at the distance.
Custom for Carlos made his first three starts over the Gulfstream track early last year, losing a head decision in his debut before breaking his maiden in his second start. He took a big step up for his third race in the Swale Stakes (gr. II) on Mar. 28 and finished a respectable third as Big Drama and This Ones for Phil battled to the wire in track record time.
Julien Leparoux has the call on Custom for Carlos, who totes 120 pounds.
Darley Stable's Past the Point ran second in Aqueduct's seven-furlong Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) in his most recent start Oct. 31 and is seeking his first graded stakes win for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The 6-year-old Indian Charlie ridgling spent last winter in Southern California racing at longer distances. His most recent win came against an optional claiming allowance field at Saratoga Aug. 6 going seven furlongs.
Peace Chant, a 7-year-old son of 2000 Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner War Chant and 1990 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner Safely Kept, scored his first stakes victory in the Phoenix Gold Cup Handicap at Turf Paradise in February for then-trainer Doug O'Neill.
Now with conditioner William Phipps, the dark bay horse was off for nearly seven months before completing his season with off-the-board showings in the Forego (gr. I) and DeFrancis Memorial Dash (gr. I). Peace Chant's dam was voted the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter of 1989.
Rose Family Stable's Prince Joshua comes off a third in the Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap (gr. III) at Calder Dec. 26 for trainer Barry Rose. Second in Calder's Carry Back (gr. II) in July, Prince Joshua is winless in four tries at Gulfstream. Rose also entered Make Me Zach, who ran seventh in the Kenny Noe.
New York shipper Starforaday finished third in the Gravesend Handicap for Gary Contessa at Aqueduct Dec. 26.
Graded stakes-placed Gentleman James, trained by Marty Wolfson, returned from a year's layoff to win an allowance heat at Tampa Bay Downs Dec. 18.
$100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (gr. III, Race 7, 4:07 p.m.), 4 & Up, 6 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Past the Point (KY), E S Prado, 116, K P McLaughlin
2. Custom for Carlos (KY), J R Leparoux, 120, E Kenneally
3. Prince Joshua (FL), D Coa, 116, B R Rose
4. Munnings (KY), J R Velazquez, 122, T A Pletcher
5. Gentleman James (KY), E Castro, 116, M D Wolfson
6. Peace Chant (KY), K J Desormeaux, 116, W Phipps
7. Make Me Zach (FL), J A Rivera II, 116, B R Rose
8. Starforaday (KY), R Maragh, 116, G C Contessa
9. Presto Change O (KY), J Rose, 116, A W Dutrow