By Jim Freer
Mr. Jordan pulled away in the stretch to win Saturday’s Sunshine Millions Classic Preview and set a Calder Casino & Race Course/Gulfstream Park West track record for 1 1/16 miles.
Mr. Jordan, a 4-year-old trained by Eddie Plesa Jr., was clocked in 1:42.52 on the dirt track that was listed as fast.
That broke the track record of 1:42.55 that the then four-year-old filly Castlebrook set on Sept. 15. 2001 in winning the Noble Royalty Handicap.
In general, times on the Calder dirt have been faster than usual during the race meet that began Oct. 8. But in an upcoming article we will have details on why Mr. Jordan’s time appears exceptional, even taking any track bias into consideration.
(The home page photo of Mr. Jordan is by Leslie Martin, Gulfstream Park).
The Millions Classic Preview was one of seven stakes races on Saturday at the Gulfstream Park West meet. Gulfstream Park is conducting the meet at Calder in Miami Gardens as part of a lease agreement.
All of the stakes had $100,000 purses and were restricted to Florida-breds.
With his regular jockey Paco Lopez riding, Mr. Jordan beat the early leader Piloting by 3 ¾ lengths. Saraguaro, winner of the 2015 Millions Classic Preview, finished third by another 2 1/4 lengths.
The win on Saturday was the sixth in 17 career starts and fifteenth in-the-money finish for Mr. Jordan, a son of Kantharos.
Fourteen of those races have been stakes, and he usually has been first or second at the quarter, half mile and three-quarters calls.
On Saturday, the recently gelded Mr. Jordan showed the ability to rate off the pace and Lopez had him in third place after three-quarters of a mile. He was a length behind Piloting who was clocked in 1:11.64 while being pressured by eventual fifth place finisher J S Bach.
The white-coated Mr. Jordan then began his move. He took the lead at the eighth pole and built his margin until the finish,
“As he’s matured, as he’s gotten older he’s learned to rate behind horses,” Plesa said. “Some horses get better with age. Some of them hit their peak at 2 and never go on. It looks like he’s the first choice, so we’re just thankful.”
Mr. Jordan’s much improved performance in recent starts, including a nine-length victory in an allowance at Parx Racing in Bensalem. Pa., on Oct. 17, can be attributed to two factors including being gelded on July 17.
“It has a way of calming horses and settling them down,” Plesa said. “Certainly his demeanor has changed,”
Mr. Jordan also had been compromised by a chronic foot issue.
“It forced me to run him in races that he wasn’t a dead-fit horse,” Plesa said. “That was the biggest problem. Finally, we got the foot resolved and his last three races were the first races that I felt he was 110 percent for. He’s been doing as good as he can be from a fitness level and a soundness level.”
*The win in the Millions Classic Preview was Mr. Jordan’s third in three starts at Calder/GP West. All were in stakes races.
Owned by Plesa’s wife, Laurie, and longtime clients David Melin and Leon Ellman, Mr. Jordan’s bankroll swelled to $513,735 with the $60,140 winner’s share of Saturday’s purse.
*Gulfstream bills the Millions Classic Preview as a prep for the $250.000 Sunshine Millions Classic, a 1 1/8 mile dirt race that will be run at Gulfstream on Jan.21.
Mr. Jordan finished second in the 2016 Sunshine Millions Classic, Mexikoma, the winner of that race, has not raced in the last nine months.
The Sunshine Millions races are restricted to Florida-breds.
*On Saturday, Lopez also won the Juvenile Fillies Sprint with R Angel Katelyn and the Juvenile Fillies Turf with Compelled.