The productive 6-year-old gelding Kelly's Landing got his 2007 season off on the right foot with a sharp 1 1/4-length win as the favorite in Saturday's $100,000 Mr. Prospector Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park.
In his first start since a 10th-place finish in the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Nov. 4, Kelly's Landing found the company a little more to his liking in the Mr. Prospector for trainer Eddie Kenneally and owner/breeder Summerplace Farm.
With Edgar Prado aboard, the son of Patton completed the six-furlong test in 1:08 4/5, two ticks off the Gulfstream Park record. The win was Kelly's Landing's sixth in 13 starts at the distance.
"In the Breeders’ Cup, it didn’t help to break from the far outside (of 14)," Kenneally said, "and he did all his running out in the middle of the track, which was definitely not the place to be that day.
"I knew he’d be right up on the pace today after he broke sharp. He’s been training super."
Kenneally said he'd consider the Deputy Minister on Feb. 3 at Gulfstream for Kelly's Landing and the $2 million Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) in late March.
"There aren’t many opportunities for sprinters to run for the kind of money, so we’ll give that a serious look. This is a good way to begin the season.”
An aggressive Kelly's Landing broke best from his outside post in the field of six, before taking back to prompt the pacesetter and second choice Weigelia on the outside through swift early fractions of :22 1/5 and :44.
Coming off the turn, Kelly's Landing took over from the tiring pacesetter, opened up a comfortable advantage, and came home under strong urging to defeat High Finance, who overcame traffic problems under Rafael Bejarano on the inside to nose Mach Ride and Elvis Trujillo in the final jump for second.
Hither Lane finished fourth, following by Blazing Purrsuit and Weigelia, who faltered after winning the Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap (gr. III) at Calder over a sloppy track Dec. 16.
“Speed has been holding up all day, and he broke out sharply," Prado sad. "He let me just take a long hold, and he was very (controllable), he was very game.”
The victory was the eighth in 19 starts for Kelly's Landing, who captured the Phoenix Breeders’ Cup (gr. III) at Keeneland in October and finished second to Lost in the Fog in the Aristides Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill in June.
Kelly's Landing pushed his earnings to $552,557.
Winning for the third time in five starts at Gulfstream, Kelly's Landing, who carried 118 pounds, paid $6.20, $3.40, and $2.80.
High Finance returned $4.20 and $3.20. Mach Ride was $4.20 to show.
Paradise Dancer and Slam Bammy scratched.