Gear Jockey kicks off 2022 campaign in GP Turf Sprint

A Gulfstream Park media release (Coady Photography photo)

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Gear Jockey will gear up for his 2022 campaign in Saturday’s $100,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint (G3) where the Calumet Farm homebred produced a career breakthrough during last season’s Championship Meet. Gear Jockey captured last fall’s $1 million FanDuel Turf Sprint (G3) to win a free trip to the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar.

The Rusty Arnold-trained 5-year-old registered a maiden-breaking victory in his ninth career start that would set the tone for a most productive 2021 season that culminated in a start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Del Mar.

“He started out his 4-year-old year as a maiden and he got good. During the year we figured out what he probably wanted to do – be a sprinter instead of going long. He had a great year,” Arnold said. “He didn’t run well in the Breeders’ Cup. He didn’t finish off the year, but he’s freshened up good and he’s ready to go.”

Gear Jockey, owned by Kentucky Downs sponsor Calumet Farm, winning last September’s $1 million FanDuel Turf Sprint. Coady Photography

Gear Jockey made a wide bid on the turn into the backstretch but flattened out in the stretch to finish sixth in the five-furlong Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

“The race was fine. We broke good and got in a good spot. I’m not sure he’s a perfect five-eighths horse. His best races have been from 5 ½ [furlongs] to three-quarters [of a mile],” Arnold said. “He might not be at his best at five-eighths. Sometimes you have trouble finding [longer races than five furlongs]. We’ll stretch out a little bit when we leave here, but we just need a starting point to get going.”

The five-furlong Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint will co headline Saturday’s program with the $100,000 Ladies Turf Sprint, a five-furlong dash for older fillies and mares.

“He’s done great. He’s had five works here in Florida – the last two were very good. He’s ready to roll,” Arnold said.

No ordinary 0-for-8 maiden

Clearly, Gear Jockey was no ordinary eight-race maiden when he broke through with his first victory in a mile maiden special weight race on turf Jan. 21, 2021. He was a graded stakes-placed maiden when he finished third in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Santa Anita.

“We’ve liked the horse all along. You could tell when we ran him in the Breeders’ Cup as a maiden. He ran third, beaten about a length or so,” Arnold said.

Gear Jockey came up a half-length short while finishing third in the Canadian Turf (G3) in his next start. He went on to win a mile allowance at Keeneland before flattening out late to finish fourth in a mile allowance at Churchill Downs. Arnold opted to try him at sprinting distances at Saratoga, where he won an allowance and finished a late-closing third in the Troy (G3), both at 5 ½ furlongs on turf.

“He just didn’t want to finish off his races last year,” Arnold said. “He had two or three that he looked like he was going to win, and he hung. We decided to back him up and sprint him, and he seemed much more comfortable.”

Gear Jockey earned a trip to the Breeders’ Cup while winning the six-furlong Fan Duel Turf Sprint (G3) by 2 ½ lengths under Jose Lezcano.

Luis Saez is scheduled to ride Gear Jockey for the first time in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint.

Gear Jockey kicks off 2022 campaign in GP Turf Sprint - The Mint Gaming Hall