Video: Millions Classic Preview S. (BT)
Trained by Eddie Plesa Jr., the 4-year-old son of Kantharos ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.52 to eclipse Castlebrook's 2001 clocking of 1:42.55, stamping himself as the leading candidate for the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park Jan.21. The Classic Preview was featured on a program of seven stakes for Florida-bred horses Saturday.
A two-time stakes winner at Gulfstream Park West during his 2-year-old season, the speedy Mr. Jordan demonstrated an added dimension Saturday when he rated off the early pace contested by Piloting and J S Bach. Under the guidance of jockey Paco Lopez, Mr. Jordan settled several lengths behind the dueling pacesetters heading into the far turn before he angled to the outside for the stretch drive. The graded stakes winner surged in the middle of the racetrack to win going away without requiring much encouragement from Lopez, who also won the Juvenile Fillies Sprint with R Angel Katelyn and the Sunshine Millions Turf Preview with Compelled.
"As he's matured. As he's gotten older, he's learned to rate behind horses," Plesa said. "Some horses get better with age. Some of them hit their peak at 2 and never go on. It looks like he's the first choice, so we're just thankful."
Mr. Jordan's much-improved performance in recent starts, including a nine-length victory in a Parx Racing allowance race last time out, can be attributed to a pair of factors, including being gelded July 17.
"It has a way of calming horses and settling them down. Certainly his demeanor has changed," Plesa said.
Mr. Jordan was also compromised by a chronic foot issue that has recently been resolved.
"It forced me to run him in races that he wasn't a dead-fit horse," said Plesa, whose striking gray had been coming up short in the stretch. "That was the biggest problem. Finally, we got the foot resolved and his last three races were the first races that I felt he was 110% for. He's been doing as good as he can be from a fitness level and a soundness level."
Owned by Plesa's wife, Laurie, along with longtime clients David Melin and Leon Ellman, Mr. Jordan's bankroll swelled to $513,735 with the $60,140 winner's share of the purse. Piloting held on for second under jockey Luca Panici, 2 1/4 lengths clear of 2015 Classic Preview winner Saraguaro.
Other stakes winners on the card were Moment of Delight (Millions Distaff Preview); Squadron (Juvenile Turf Stakes); Sweetontheladies (Juvenile Sprint Stakes), and Enterprising (Millions Turf Preview).