A handful of strides out of gate of the Jan. 20 $100,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint Stakes, trainer Jorge Navarro knew it wouldn't be much longer before he could start celebrating.
What Navarro saw was something that, more often than not, ends extremely well for his camp—graded stakes winner X Y Jet winging away as he pleased on the front end. Sure enough, the gray Kantharos gelding delivered as expected Saturday when he led every point of call en route to a 5 1/2-length win in the six-furlong race for Florida-bred runners at Gulfstream Park.
When not sidelined by various ailments and injuries, X Y Jet can more than hold his own against the nation's top sprinters. The 6-year-old horse returned from a 13-month layoff to win the Dec. 23 Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3), using the front-running style that has been best weapon.
The Sunshine Millions Sprint performance was more of the same. Against a group of six challengers, X Y Jet looked every bit the 4-5 favorite at every stage, cutting fractions of :22.56 and :45.28 before kicking on handily off the turn under Emisael Jaramillo and coasting to his eighth career win from 19 starts. The final time for the distance was 1:09.86.
"Yeah, I was hoping to see that," said Navarro, whose sprinter has undergone three knee surgeries during his career. "After the injuries he's had, for him to do this, wow. I always knew he was a runner. I always thought he was one of the best sprinters two years ago. Hopefully, he comes back clean.
"Let's see how he comes out first, but I think he has another race in February or we could probably go straight to Dubai."
X Y Jet narrowly finished second in the 2016 Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored By Gulf News (G1), after which he was sidelined with a knee chip until that October, when he returned to run fifth in the Vosburgh Stakes (G1). He went on to place third in that year's Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) before being put on the shelf until last month.
Owned by Rockingham Ranch and Gelfenstein Farm, X Y Jet capped a strong day for Jaramillo Saturday after the jockey also won the Sunshine Millions Classic aboard Jay's Way.
"His race was excellent," Jaramillo said of X Y Jet. "My horse was not explosive at the start, but he has good speed and he responded well to take the lead. I was told to take the lead from the beginning, because his best weapon is his speed and uses it."
Mo Cash recovered after having to hit the breaks on the backstretch to get up for second in the Sunshine Millions Sprint with Sweetontheladies third. Sheikh of Sheikhs was pulled up in the stretch but walked off.
Bred by Didier Plasencia out of the Lost Soldier mare Solidersingsblues, X Y Jet was a $56,000 purchase by Antonio Sano from Two Sharp Hats' consignment to the Ocala Breeders' Sales 2013 August yearling sale. He has won his last five starts at Gulfstream, including the 2016 Sunshine Millions Sprint and that year's Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes (G3). He improved his earnings to $920,813.