Twirling Candy's Gear Jockey Doubles Up in Ainsworth Turf Sprint

Gear Jockey (white shadow roll) holds off the competition | Coady


In a mad scramble for the wire in Saturday's $1-million GII Ainsworth Turf Sprint S. at Kentucky Downs, 23-1 Calumet homebred Gear Jockey (6, h, Twirling Candy–Switching Gears, by Tapit) got a desperate head down in front of 3-2 choice One Timer (Trappe Shot) and 11-1 Bad Beat Brian (Jack Milton). It was a repeat of his success in this same race two years ago when it was a Grade III, albeit by a far slimmer margin.

Final time for the six furlongs was 1:10.59. The Turf Sprint is a Breeders' Cup “Win and You're In” race, giving Gear Jockey an automatic berth into the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita.

The winner was prominent throughout, stalking the :21.77 and :45.08 early fractions set by Bad Beat Brian. Gear Jockey didn't give the leader a comfortable time of it while pressuring from the outside. The duo remained one-two until late stretch with Bad Beat Brian digging in gamely, but Gear Jockey determinedly stuck his head in front as One Timer–who won the GII Franklin-Simpson S. over this course last year–closed down the middle and entered the scene from the outside. The largest margin between the first seven horses across the wire was a neck.

“He broke very sharp. He gave me the same race he gave me two years ago when he won here,” said winning rider Jose Lezcano. “To be honest with you, I knew it was going to be very close… I was very happy for the horse. He is a tough horse and he tries all the time. I am very happy for [trainer] Rusty [Arnold] and his whole team. They work very hard.”

Gear Jockey brings his best to Kentucky Downs, as he won this race in 2021 with a 105 Beyer Speed Figure, his top to date, but had neglected to find the winner's circle since until Saturday and makes it two-for-two over the Kentucky Downs lawn. He was coming off a sixth-place finish in the July 22 Van Clief S. at Colonial Downs–his first start since last November–behind Front Run the Fed (Fed Biz), who finished sixth in Saturday's Turf Sprint. While he hasn't shied away from top competition and has just the two Kentucky Downs graded stakes on his CV, Gear Jockey has faced and finished just behind some of the best grass sprinters of the last few years. His five graded placings include the 2019 GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and the 2022 GII Shakertown S.

“We're pretty happy,” said trainer Rusty Arnold. “He's a favorite. I thought he had lost his edge. He's had his issues and we thought we had him in pretty good shape. He loves this course. Two times he's won on it, so obviously he does. Great ride. Very happy.”


Pedigree Notes:

Thanks to the healthy purses at Kentucky Downs, Gear Jockey is the richest of Twirling Candy's 43 black-type winners, although the stallion's 18 graded winners also include GISWs Concrete Rose, Pinehurst, Gift Box, and Rombauer, as well as four additional Grade I winners. The son of Candy Ride (Arg) stands alongside his sire at Lane's End. Gear Jockey is also one of 90 stakes winners out of daughters of Tapit, whose 2023 successes as a broodmare sire have catapulted him into the leading damsire of the year. Gear Jockey joins luminaries such as Cody's Wish, Pretty Mischievous, and Arcangelo on the Gainesway sire's 'best-of' list as broodmare sire for 2023.

Calumet bought Switching Gears for $20,000 at the 2017 Keeneland January sale with Gear Jockey in utero. The mare is out of a half-sister to GISW and sire Stroll (Pulpit). Her most recent foal is a yearling colt by Bravazo. She was bred to Mandaloun for next term.

Saturday, Kentucky Downs
AINSWORTH TURF SPRINT S.-GII, $998,667, Kentucky Downs, 9-9, 3yo/up, 6fT, 1:10.59, fm.
1–GEAR JOCKEY, 121, h, 6, by Twirling Candy
                1st Dam: Switching Gears, by Tapit
                2nd Dam: Pace, by Indian Ridge (Ire)
                3rd Dam: Maid for Walking (GB), by Prince Sabo (GB)
O/B-Calumet Farm (KY); T-George R. Arnold, II; J-Jose Lezcano. $589,680. Lifetime Record: GISP, 24-5-2-6, $1,586,651. Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–One Timer, 121, g, 4, Trappe Shot–Spanish Star, by Blame. ($21,000 Ylg '20 FTKOCT). O-Patricia's Hope LLC and Richard Ravin; B-St. Simon Place LLC (KY); T-Larry Rivelli. $192,800.
3–Bad Beat Brian, 121, g, 6, Jack Milton–Ultimate Class, by During. ($22,000 RNA Wlg '17 KEENOV; $16,000 RNA Ylg '18 KEESEP; $115,000 2yo '19 EASMAY). O-Marsico Brothers Racing LLC; B-Pope McLean, Pope McLean Jr., Marc McLean & Phil Hager (KY); T-Brittany A. Vanden Berg. $96,400.
Margins: HD, NK, NK. Odds: 23.30, 1.50, 11.84.
Also Ran: Olympic Runner, Cogburn, Front Run the Fed, Eamonn, Dr Zempf (GB), Dream Shake, Counterstrike, Noble Reflection. Scratched: Anaconda, Nobals.
Click for the chart and the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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