Apriority made his presence known at the beginning of the year finishing second to Amazombie in the Sunshine Millions Sprint. Before that second place finish, the Grand Slam colt had required six attempts to break his maiden. Once he finally scored his first win, he reeled off three straight victories including his maiden. Amazombie’s win and Apriority’s place propelled them both out of relative obscurity and into the big leagues, but they have taken different routes since then. Since January, Amazombie has scored a Grade 2, a non-graded stakes, and two Grade 1 stakes victories. Apriority, on the other hand, only managed to win an allowance optional claiming event while finishing 2nd in the G1 Carter Handicap and the G2 Churchill Downs Stakes. In his last three races, however, he finished completely off the board.
This Saturday, Apriority is back for his first race since finishing 6th in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. After facing the nation’s top sprinters all year, trainer David Fawkes is backing his charge down to the G3 Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Though he is stepping back in level, the field he faces is anything but weak. His six rivals for the New Year’s Eve race are:
1.Apriority—4/C—L. Saez—D. Fawkes—118
4.Indiano—3/C—J. Castellano—M. Wolfson—120
6.The Hunk—4/C—E. Trujillo—B. Perkins, Jr.—118
Zero Rate Policy, Immortal Eyes, and Nathan’s H Q are all non-graded stakes winners and The Hunk is an allowance winner, but Indiano is a G2 winner while Capt. Candyman Can is a G1 winner. Capt. Candyman Can captured the G1 King’s Bishop Stakes as a three-year old but finished 8th in the 2009 edition of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. After his disappointing performance in the Sprint, the Candy Ride gelding was out for 15 months due to an injury. His return in the Super Stakes back in February showed that his layoff did not hinder his winning ways, but his return to graded company has not been as successful. The bay gelding finished 4th in the G2 Churchill Downs Stakes, less than a length behind Apriority, and 3rd in the G3 Aristides Stakes. A seasoned runner familiar with winning, Capt. Candyman Can will make Apriority’s job on Saturday anything but easy.
Apriority’s last three races saw him tire, fail to contend after being bumped, and fail to respond in the stretch. If he is to capture his first graded stakes win, then he is going to need to recapture his form from earlier in the season. His three second place finishes were to three very good competitors: Amazombie, Morning Line, and Aikenite. The only competitor close to that level in Saturday’s field is Capt. Candyman Can, and Apriority has already beaten him. That is not to say that the race is Apriority’s to lose because he will have to be at his very best to repeat the effort against the Candy Ride gelding for a second time. The Grand Slam colt has the talent to win the Mr. Prospector Stakes, but only Saturday will tell if he is the winner we all think he can be.