Edited Gulfstream Park Release –– Mr. Amore Stable LLC’s Firenze Fire, Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables LLC’s Mind Control, and Diamond 100 Racing Club LLC and partners’ Diamond Oops are set for a highly anticipated clash in Saturday’s $100,000 Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The trio of multiple graded stakes-winning veterans will headline a deep field of 12 sprinters for the 66th running of seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up on an 11-race card that will also feature a mandatory payout of the 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot pool.
Kelly Breen-trained Firenze Fire, who was scratched from the Dec. 5 Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct due to a sloppy track, is coming off a third-place finish at Keeneland in the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), in which he rallied from 11th to just miss catching C Z Rocket for second in the six-furlong race won by Whitmore.
“Whitmore was able to get through. We were just behind him, but it closed up on us and we couldn’t get there. He ran a great race. He always does. He tries all the time,” Mr. Amore Stable’s Ron Lombardi said. “The slop is obviously difficult for him. That’s what led to the decision to skip the Cigar Mile and ship him to Florida.”
The homebred 5-year-old son of Poseidon’s Warrior, who has earned $2.2 million while winning 12 of 30 career starts against top-class company, had previously captured the Vosburgh (G2) at Belmont Park by 2 ¾ lengths.
Firenze Fire, who captured the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park during his juvenile campaign, has been an enduring sprint star while capturing graded stakes in each of the next three years, including three in 2020. Since joining Breen’s stable in March, his only two poor showings in six starts came over sloppy tracks.
Firenze Fire is scheduled to run at Gulfstream Park for the first time in his career.
“He’s won on seven tracks. Of his 12 wins, seven have been at different tracks,” Lombardi said. “I think he likes a harder surface better than a softer surface, so I think Gulfstream will serve him well.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount.
Greg Sacco-trained Mind Control was also scratched from the Cigar Mile due to his dislike for sloppy tracks. The 4-year-old son of Stay Thirsty won Grade 1 stakes at Saratoga in each of his first two years of racing, capturing the Hopeful at 2 and the H. Allen Jerkens at 3.
Mind Control kicked off his 2020 campaign with back-to-back graded-stakes victories at Aqueduct in the Toboggan (G3) and Tom Fool (G3) but is winless in five subsequent starts. After finishing eighth in the Carter (G1) over a sloppy Belmont track, the Red Oak homebred turned in a strong third-place finish behind Volatile and Whitmore in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) at Saratoga. In his last three starts he finished off-the-board over a sloppy Saratoga track in the Forego (G1); finished third in the ungraded Mr. Prospector at Monmouth; and was a disappointing ninth in the seven-furlong Lafayette at Keeneland on the Breeders’ Cup undercard.
“It’s been a little bit of a hard luck year. He started out the year super and then COVID hit. The Carter got pushed back and he hit the slop and he hates the slop. We ran him back in the Vanderbilt and he ran super. We were back on track and we hit the slop again,” Sacco said. “We brought him back to Monmouth to give him an easier race to give him a confidence booster. He got a rough trip that day and got checked back on the backstretch. The race at Keeneland, a horse gave way right in front of him and Johnny [Velazquez] had to snatch him up. We’ve been sort of a victim of circumstances this year.”
Hall of Famer Velazquez has the return call aboard Mind Control.
Patrick Biancone-trained Diamond Oops is coming into the Mr. Prospector off an even sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), in which he finished 4 ½ lengths behind Whitmore and a length behind Firenze Fire after breaking from an outside post position.
“He came back good,” Biancone said. “He got a bad draw that day, but he came back good.”
The versatile Diamond Oops, who won last year’s Mr. Prospector, went into the Breeders’ Cup off back-to-back victories in the Churchill Downs Turf Sprint (G2) and the Phoenix (G2) over Keeneland’s main track. In 2019, the 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky was Grade 1 stakes-placed in back-to-back starts on dirt (Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga) and on turf (Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland).
“He’s just a good horse,” Biancone said.
After winning the Mr. Prospector last year, Diamond Oops came back to finish a credible fourth in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park in January.
“We go one race at a time,” Biancone said. “We’re going race by race. We’ll see how we go. It’s a long way. We’ll see. I cannot say, ‘yes.’ I cannot say, ‘no.’”
Julien Leparoux has the call aboard Diamond Oops.
David Bernsen LLC and Jeffrey Lambert’s Lasting Legacy also enters the Mr. Prospector after running in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, in which he was beaten by 6 ¾ lengths in a ninth-place finish after being claimed for $80,000 out of his previous race. The 6-year-old son of Tapizar finished second behind Diamond Oops in the Mr. Prospector last season.
Trainer Bob Hess Jr. named Paco Lopez to ride Lasting Legacy.
Thumbs Up Racing LLC’s Sleepy Eyes Todd enters the Mr. Prospector off a victory on the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup card, having captured the Lafayette by 1 ½ lengths after closing from 12th. True Timber, who finished second, came back to win the Cigar Mile. The Miguel Silva-trained 4-year-old son of Paddy O’Prado had won the Charles Town Classic (G2) two starts prior. Tyler Gaffalione is scheduled to ride Sleepy Eyes Todd for the first time Saturday.
R. A. Hill Stable’s Majestic Dunhill finished seventh in the Fall Highweight (G3) at Aqueduct in his most recent start but rates consideration Saturday off a victory in the Bold Ruler (G3) at Belmont in his previous start. Trainer George Weaver awarded the mount aboard the 5-year-old son of Majesticperfection to Joe Bravo.
Shadwell Stable’s Haikal, who captured the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct last year for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, is scheduled to make his first start for trainer Todd Pletcher Saturday off nearly a 10-month layoff. Luis Saez is slated to ride the 4-year-old son of Daaher for the first time.
My Purple Haze Stables’ Cool Arrow, the winner of the Sept. 6 Smile Sprint (G3) at Gulfstream, is scheduled to seek his fifth victory in eight starts over the Gulfstream strip in the Mr. Prospector. The Terri Pompay-trained son of Into Mischief will be ridden by Edgard Zayas.
Rounding out the field are Wind of Change, Last Judgment, Ebben and Zenden.