Now undefeated in three starts since his return from a 13-month layoff, Rockingham Ranch and Gelfenstein Farm's X Y Jet is set to jet to Dubai for a second try in the Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (G1).
The 6-year-old Kantharos gelding trained by Jorge Navarro aced his Golden Shaheen prep Feb. 17 at Tampa Bay Downs, where he routed an overmatched field of six challengers to win the $100,000 Pelican Stakes by seven lengths.
Second choice Recruiting Ready attempted to keep up with the 2-5 favorite early, but simply could not stay with the speedy gray.
X Y Jet had a length lead through a first quarter-mile in :21.81, opened a 3 1/2-length advantage through a half-mile in :44.41, and was in no danger of losing the top spot in the stretch. Under jockey Emisael Jaramillo, X Y Jet completed the six-furlong sprint in 1:09.17. Jaguar Poz rallied to finish second, 1 3/4 lengths clear of Divine Ambition. Recruiting Ready finished sixth.
Since his return to racing in December, following surgery to remove a knee chip, X Y Jet has led at every point of call. He sped to victory in the Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) in his first race back Dec. 23, then took the Sunshine Millions Sprint Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths Jan. 20 before his Pelican score.
"He wants to go to Dubai. We want a vacation," Navarro said. "We did the right thing coming here today, and now we're ready for Dubai."
In his first journey to Dubai in 2016, X Y Jet just missed by a neck in the Golden Shaheen. He then finished fifth in the Vosburgh Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park and third in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes (G3) at Laurel Park to close out the season before his extended layoff.
"It means a lot to us as a stable and a lot to our trainer, Jorge, because (X Y Jet) was one of his first big stakes horses," said Rockingham racing manager Brian Trump. "We felt he gave it everything he had in his last race in Dubai to lose by a head, and it would mean a lot to get back there."
Anything close to a positive result overseas would also push X Y Jet into millionaire status, as he now has $990,813 in earnings and a 9-6-2 record from 20 starts. Bred in Florida by Didier Plasencia out of the Lost Soldier mare Soldiersingsblues, X Y Jet was a $56,000 purchase out of Two Sharp Hats' consignment to the 2013 Ocala Breeders' Sales August yearling sale by Antonio Sano, who trained the horse until late in 2014.