In his first start for new owners, X Y Jet showed toughness in the stretch to secure a fifth straight victory Saturday, Feb. 27, taking the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes (gr. III) by 1 1/4 lengths.
Making his first start since California-based Rockingham Ranch purchased a majority interest from Gelfenstein Farm, which retains a minority interest; X Y Jet faced a taxing start to Saturday's 6 1/2-furlong sprint for older horses but found a way to hold off all challengers in the Gulfstream Park stretch.
After an awkward start, X Y Jet quickly seized the lead but was shadowed early by Trouble Kid. Those two battled through a quarter-mile in :21.84 and half-mile in :43.92 before X Y Jet put away the early challenge. X Y Jet opened a two-length lead in early stretch but K Town Partners' Candip would soon find his best stride.
In search of his first stakes win, Candip would make up some ground in the stretch but 1-2 favorite X Y Jet and jockey Emisael Jaramillo would hold sway, completing the test in 1:15.95 on a fast track for a third straight stakes win at Gulfstream and a fifth straight victory overall.
Candip held second to earn his first graded-stakes placing while last year's Fasig-Tipton Swale Stakes (gr. II) winner Ready for Rye secured third.
Despite the ownership change, Jaramillo continued to ride X Y Jet and Jorge Navarro continues to train the 4-year-old son of Kantharos.
Rockingham purchased X Y Jet with an eye toward competing in the March 26 Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I). After the race Navarro said he would leave for Dubai March 13 to be there ahead of X Y Jet, who is scheduled to ship March 15. He said Saturday's race will serve as a great prep.
"I'm going to keep him happy now," Navarro said. "In a way, the :43 (half mile), I kind of loved it because I'm not planning to do anything with him right now. I'm going to keep him happy, that's it. I'm going to go [to Dubai] and go on a vacation."
Gary Hartunian of Rockingham Ranch also thinks the horse will be ready for Dubai.
"This is a nice way to get in. It's unbelievable. I didn't love the start and I didn't love the half. When I saw that fraction of :43 I said, 'Oh, my God, what's this horse doing.' Plus he's stretching out from six to 6 1/2 furlongs," Hartunian said. "I was wondering if he was going to have enough, but he did. And they say he's just peaking ... just starting to get going."
X Y Jet has established himself as one of the top sprinters in the country since surgery last year to remove bone chips in both knees followed by six months rest. After that break, Florida-bred X Y Jet won allowance races at Monmouth Park and Gulfstream Park West before rolling to three straight wins in sprint stakes at Gulfstream Park: the Mr. Prospector (gr. III), Sunshine Millions Sprint, and Saturday's win.
"Coming into the paddock (Saturday), he wasn't the same horse as last time out. He was ready. I was like, 'Oh my God, they're in trouble,'" Navarro said. "My biggest concern with X Y Jet has always been the gate. I don't know what happens back there, if he's not paying attention to what goes on, but I always tell Jaramillo, 'Please make sure of a clean break, that they're holding his head up so he's not looking down.' We went through that last year, and he was a nightmare. I know what kind of a horse he is. Last year we thought he was a nice horse."
Jaramillo said X Y Jet quickly recovered after the stumble at the start.
"After he stumbled, he gathered himself and he made the lead," Jaramillo said. "They put pressure on him, but when they looked him in the eye, he got in the bridle. When he turned for home, he got in a different gear. In the lane, it looked like he was waiting on horses, but he has so much class, when I called on him, he just drew away again."
X Y Jet returned $3 to win, $2.40 to place, and $2.10 to show while Candip paid $5.40 and $3.60 to place and show. Ready for Rye returned $2.60 to show.
Bred by Didier Plascenia, X Y Jet is out of winning Lost Soldier mare Soldiersingsblues, who also has produced stakes-placed Woman Soldier.