Updated on 09/16/2011 6:39AM

Back on their track

Michael J. Marten
Hook and Ladder earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in all three of his 2001 Gulfstream Park wins.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Between them, Hook and Ladder and Istintaj won all five of their starts at Gulfstream Park last winter, including each of the meet's major sprint stakes. Once they left south Florida, the pair went a combined 0 for 10 the remainder of the season.

Thus it is not surprising that trainers John Kimmel and Mark Hennig are glad to have their star sprinters back at Gulfstream, where they will hook up against seven rivals in Sunday's $100,000 Mr. Prospector Handicap.

Hook and Ladder won a pair of allowance races rather easily, then outgamed the odds-on Trippi to win the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship here in 2001, earning triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures for all three of those efforts. He then went winless in five subsequent starts in New York, although did finish a game third in the Carter Handicap, a Grade 1, and second in the Grade 2 Forest Hills Handicap before completing the campaign finishing 14th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"On the whole, it was kind of a disappointing season considering the way it began," said John Kimmel, who trains Hook and Ladder for Mary and Chester Broman. "We fought foot problems with him all year. He started to come around at Saratoga and ran a bang-up race to Delaware Township in the Forest Hills despite being pinned down near the inside which wasn't the best part of the track. The Breeders' Cup was a throwout the minute he drew post 14."

Kimmel said Hook and Ladder's success at Gulfstream Park is not so much that he likes the racetrack but that he can train for his races at Payson Park.

"He loves Payson," said Kimmel. "It's deeper and kind on his feet and as long as his feet are quiet he's a very good horse. He might be just a cut below a Grade 1 sprinter, but when he's doing well he can run with anybody. And I don't see any Delaware Townships in the race on Sunday."

Istintaj is the defending Mr. Prospector champion and the closest thing to a Delaware Township in the field for this year's edition of the six-furlong dash.

Trained by Mark Hennig, Istintaj rallied to a two-length victory in the 2001 Mr. Prospector, then returned three weeks later to win the Deputy Minister Handicap, both Grade 3 events.

Istintaj finished sixth behind Caller One in the Golden Shaheen Stakes last spring in Dubai. He would make just four more starts the remainder of the year, with only a pair of third-place finishes to show for those efforts.

"Both the race and trip to Dubai took a lot out of him," said Hennig.

"He seemed to start rounding back into shape during the fall, and he's been training real well up at Payson."

Jerry Bailey has the mount on Istintaj, while John Velazquez rides Hook and Ladder.

Istintaj figures to benefit from what figures to be a very fast pace with Kipperscope in the lineup. A five-furlong turf specialist during the latter half of the season, Kipperscope is on top of his game, especially since uniting with jockey Cornelio Velasquez, with whom he is perfect in four starts dating back to July.

If Kipperscope is ever going to win a race of this magnitude going six furlongs, it could be over the speed-favoring Gulfstream Park track, although even his trainer, Rudy Wolfendale, is uncertain what to expect once the field leaves the eighth pole.

"I'm not worried about the race being on dirt," said Wolfendale.

"The distance? Maybe."

Red's Honor, on the other hand, is a six-furlong specialist, having won six of eight starts at the distance. He also figures to force the early running and will be tested for class, as he has won his last three starts against Indiana-breds.

The remainder of the field includes Tempered Appeal, Binthebest, Winnie's Pooh Bear, and Silver Jet.

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