Mr. Jordan is likely to be solidly favored in the Saturday’s $200,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park, but trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. isn’t looking at the 1 1/8-mile race as a layup for his 6-year-old gelding.
Mr. Jordan enters the headliner of four stakes for Florida-bred horses on Saturday’s card in sharp form. After romping to an easy victory in the Millions Classic Preview at Gulfstream Park West Nov. 11, the son of Kantharos turned in a game second-place finish in the Harlan’s Holiday (G3) at Gulfstream Dec. 16.
“He came out of his race 100 percent. My only concern is the distance,” Plesa said. “It’s a mile and an eighth – that’s stretching him. It being a Florida-bred race, we might be able to make up for the distance.”
Mr. Jordan, a graded-stakes winner who has earned nearly $625,000 for David Melin, Leon Ellman and Laurie Plesa, ran in the 2016 Sunshine Millions Classic, coming up short in the stretch to finish 1 ½ lengths behind Mexikoma and 12 lengths clear of third-place finisher Catholic Cowboy.
The Plesa trainee had no trouble negotiating 1 1/16 miles in the Preview, in which he showed the way to a field of Florida-breds on his way to an 11 ½-length triumph. He did come up short in deep stretch in the 1 1/16-mile Harlan’s Holiday, in which he was involved in the pace from the start and held gamely to finish second behind Fear the Cowboy, who is slated to run next in the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Jan. 27.
“I think he’s as good as ever. We won’t be able to tell until Saturday if he’s better than ever. I was impressed with his last race because he had to run the whole distance. He didn’t get any kind of a breather,” Plesa said.
“I don’t think the race will come up like that. I think, tactically, this race will come up more to benefit him that than the last race did,” he added. “The sixteenth of a mile longer hopefully will be negated by the trip. Not to take anything away from Florida-breds, because he is one, but it may be a little bit of a relief in class.”
Having done his best at Gulfstream Park West, Mr. Jordan will be seeking his first win in nine starts at Gulfstream Park, where he has finished second in four stakes.
Edgard Zayas, who has been aboard Mr. Jordan for his last two starts, has the return mount.
Richard the Great looms as a serious danger after finishing third in the Harlan’s Holiday, a neck behind Mr. Jordan. The Arindel homebred gelding previously finished 11 ½ lengths behind Mr. Jordan while running second in his first start around two turns in the Millions Classic Preview.
In the Harlan’s Holiday, the 6-year-old son of Distorted Humor stalked the pace on the outside of Mr. Jordan, made a strong bid into the stretch and continued on gamely to record his first graded-stakes placing under Paco Lopez.
“That was the second time he went two turns. He ran good. He ran good the first time, but I thought he ran better the second time. I think he can run better this time,” trainer Stanley Gold said. “The winner’s gone, so we have to contend with Mr. Jordan and the others. He deserves a shot in there and Paco wanted to ride him back.”
Midwest Thoroughbreds’ Jay’s Way enters the Sunshine Millions Classic off a game victory around two turns in a Dec. 26 optional claiming allowance race at Gulfstream. The 5-year-old son of Gone Astray set the pace, was headed by two horses in deep stretch and fought back to score by a nose over graded-stakes winner J Boy’s Echo.
Emisael Jaramillo has the mount on the Armando De La Cerda trainee.
Mossarosa’s Catholic Cowboy, who finished third behind Mr. Jordan in the 2016 Sunshine Millions Classic, will be in search of his third stakes win over the Gulfstream track for trainer Nick Zito.
Time E. O’Donahue Racing Stables’ Flemish Cap, who has won three of his last four starts in optional claiming allowance company for trainer David Braddy, and Crocodile Charlie, a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance winner for Span Investments and trainer Rohan Crichton, complete the field.
Source: Gulfstream Park