Horse Racing

Gear Jockey Had Just Enough Gears in KY Turf Sprint

Gear Jockey  found just enough gears for jockey Jose Lezcano to get home a narrow winner in the $1 million Ainsworth Turf Sprint Sept. 9 at Kentucky Downs—his first victory since he won the same race two years earlier.

The 6-year-old entire son of Twirling Candy, a Calumet Farm homebred, now is 2-for-2 at the unique Kentucky Downs course. Thanks to a “Win and You’re In” invitation, he’s also primed for a second start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) Nov. 4 at Santa Anita.

Lezcano hustled Gear Jockey out of the No. 9 gate and took station just behind the early leader, Bad Beat Brian , around the sweeping turn. Heading into the stretch, he gained a clear lead and then was all out to hang onto it.

The favorite, One Timer, loomed the biggest threat, closing sharply on the far outside, but fell just a head short in a blanket finish involving seven horses, all within 1 length of the winner. Bad Beat Brian held third with the camera placing Olympic Runner and Cogburn fourth and fifth.

Gear Jockey, trained by Rusty Arnold, finished the 6 furlongs on firm turf in 1:10.59, winning for the fifth time from 24 starts.

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“He’s had his issues,” Arnold said. “You get him over here without his issues and you’ve got a different horse. He won kind of the same way two years ago. We wanted to run here last year. We missed it. It’s nice to get him back.”

After the 2021 Kentucky Downs score, Gear Jockey went directly to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar and wasn’t disgraced while finishing fifth, beaten 4 1/2 lengths. He started 2022 finishing fifth in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint (G3T), third in the Shakertown (G2T) at Keeneland and fourth, just 2 lengths adrift of the winner, Arrest Me Red, in the Turf Sprint (G2T) at Churchill Downs May 6.

The top level proved too much as Gear Jockey reported a fading 10th in the Jaipur (G1T) at Belmont Park in June. That was followed by a fourth-place finish in the Woodford (G2T) back at Keeneland and a ninth, ahead of just one rival, in the Turf Sprint Championship at Aqueduct Nov. 25.

He beat none of his five rivals in his only previous start in 2023, the Van Clief Stakes at Colonial Downs July 22.

For his sire, Twirling Candy, it was the second Grade 1 win of the year, following Exaulted’s victory in the Shoemaker Mile (G1T) at Santa Anita. Evvie Jets and Dream Shake have provided Group 2 wins. Twirling Candy stood the 2023 season at Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Ky., for $60,000.


Video: Ainsworth Turf Sprint S. (G2T)



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