Author: Michele MacDonald
Hoping a third try might result in the proverbial charmed result, trainer Jorge Navarro has declared that he is aiming gutsy sprinter X Y Jet at the Dubai Golden Shaheen yet again. X Y Jet has twice finished just about as close as a horse can come to gaining victory in the $2 million dash over 1200m at Meydan without nabbing the big prize. Last year he was caught in the final yards by Mind Your Biscuits, who edged him by a head, and in 2016 he was also beaten in the final yards, losing to Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Muarrab by a grudging neck. What makes X Y Jet’s story particularly remarkable, however, is the fact that the now 7yo gelding has endured and rebounded from three surgeries to remove bone chips from his left knee and still is competitive with some of the speediest dirt runners in the world.
He tenaciously outgamed reigning American Champion Sprinter Roy H, fending him off to retain the runner-up spot, in last year’s Dubai Golden Shaheen. How many races are left for X Y Jet and his problematic knee can’t be known, but Navarro has a plan for the coming weeks that includes the Sunshine Millions Sprint on 19 January at Gulfstream Park as part of the return path to Dubai, he reported on 5 January. “There is no doubt that he’s very fragile. You have to be very careful with him and keep him happy,” Navarro said. “I’ve had him so long, I know when he wants to do something or he lets me know: ‘Jorge slow down with me.’ “Everything with X Y Jet is about details. You have to pay attention to him. The main thing is keeping him happy, and right now, he’s very, very happy.”
When Navarro gave that upbeat assessment, X Y Jet had just worked 5f in 1:00 at Palm Meadows Training Centre. “This was our main workout. Next week, we’ll do something nice and easy. We’re looking forward to the Sunshine Millions. The work today, I think will get him to that race,” Navarro said. “Then, we’ll look around, give him another 45 days and look around for another spot and then we’ll try Dubai for a third time. Maybe this is the one.” Navarro has been very diligent and also very successful in picking spots where X Y Jet can display his best. In his 13 most recent races dating back to September 2015, X Y Jet has won nine times and placed another three, finishing out of the top three only once.
The distinctive grey has won the Sunshine Millions Sprint twice, in 2016 and 2018, while using that race as a primary launching pad to Dubai both times, and has earned more than $1.5 million over the course of a career that began when he was a juvenile in 2014. For Navarro, competing in Dubai is a virtually lifelong desire. The Panamanian native, who started his career as a hotwalker, said while at Meydan last year that he began to dream of participating in Dubai racing when he ‘was just a kid’ and watched on television as Cigar captured the inaugural running of the Dubai World Cup. X Y Jet has taken Navarro’s flight of fancy into reality, and the trainer also sent out Grade One winner Sharp Azteca to finish third, less than a length behind winner Second Summer, after leading most of the way in the 2017 Godolphin Mile.
“He’s been so good to me,” Navarro exclaimed about X Y Jet, who was bred in Florida by Didier Plasencia and is owned by Rockingham Ranch and Gelfstenstein Farm. “He brought me to Dubai and he’s given us such a ride.” X Y Jet has been off since last 30 June, when he won the Grade 3 Smile Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream, but Navarro seems to have once again worked healing magic as the gelding has been able to record five timed workouts in the month from 9 December to 5 January. The most recent move was from the starting gate and turned out to be the fastest of the day at Palm Meadows over the distance. If he continues on this trajectory and despite his age and his knee, X Y Jet might just be able to validate the centuries old proverb about the third attempt at a goal being lucky.
Navarro revealed at Meydan last March that the sprinter usually has a very testy personality but that Dubai changes his attitude for the better, which can be a positive factor when it comes to race time. “There’s something about Dubai that turns him into a sweetheart,” Navarro said. “He’s so relaxed there; he loves it. The place is wide open and he has a mile and a half walk to the track and back to the barn, and the stalls are amazing; they have so much space. There he acts so nice that you could hug and kiss him.” If X Y Jet makes it to the winner’s circle at Meydan, there is little doubt that Navarro will be planting a major smooch on the horse who has given so much to make the trainer’s dreams come true.
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