HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. –Vegso Racing Stable’s Officiating’s run in Saturday’s $100,000 Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream Park was a most worthwhile experiment that resulted in a 7-1 upset victory in the first graded stakes of the 2021-2022 Championship Meet.
“His fast dirt form hasn’t been good, but he’s been training so good, that I said to Peter [Vegso], ‘We’ve got to give him one more try. He trains too good on the fast dirt not to run good on it,’” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. “In the paddock, I said to Peter, ‘He’s going to win or get beat 20 lengths.’ Thank God, he handled it well.”
Officiating ($16.80), who had been winless in four starts on fast tracks prior to Saturday, gained prime stalking position behind his pace-making stablemate Wind of Change and pressers Poppy’s Pride and Doc Amster along the backstretch. Jockey Luis Saez asked the 3-year-old son of Blame for some run on the far turn, and the Florida-bred colt responded to challenge the leaders on the turn into the stretch, with Dennis’ Moment mounting a stiff challenge to his outside.
Officiating had no trouble navigating the fast track through the stretch while edging clear and holding off the late challenge of Endorsed, the 9-5 favorite ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, to win by three-quarters of a length.
“We tried to break and be in a good spot right there, following the speed. We know there was going to be some decent speed, so we tried to just maintain him in the race. When he came to the top of the stretch, he gave me that good kick, good turn of foot, and he fought. He fought to win the race,” said Saez following his third victory of the afternoon. “That was an exciting race.”
Officiating ran seven furlongs in 1:22.28 off fractions off fractions of 22.18 and 44.75 seconds for the first half mile. Endorsed finished a half-length ahead of Dennis’ Moment.
Officiating, a half-brother to 2017 Eclipse Award-winning juvenile filly Caledonia Road, had run well on wet main tracks during his career, winning the Sept. 2 Bear’s Den Stakes at Gulfstream, and finishing second twice in three starts. His other win came on turf, but his fast main track efforts produced only a distant third-place finish in a state-bred allowance.
Joseph expects Officiating to run on dirt, fast or otherwise, for his next start.
“I wouldn’t want to cut him back to three-quarters. I’ll talk it over with Peter, but they have a good series at a mile here,” Joseph said.
Mr. Prospector Replay
Gulfstream Park Press Release
Photo: Officiating (Lauren King)