01/11/2011 12:42PM

Custom for Carlos targeting repeat in Mr. Prospector

Barbara D. Livingston
Custom for Carlos (above) will face BC Sprint winner Big Drama in the Mr. Prospector.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Eddie Kenneally had a fairly rough start to his Florida winter after leaving Churchill Downs on a high note. The 44-year-old trainer ran five horses at Calder, and none hit the board, despite all of them being 6-1 or lower.

The start of the Gulfstream Park meet wasn’t all that great, either, as Kenneally managed just one runner-up finish from his first five starters. But apparently Kenneally can only be contained, not stopped. He sent out two winners here Sunday in Lago Mar Lady ($24.20) and Disfraz ($9.60), establishing momentum for what he hopes will be a big meet.

Kenneally will try to beat Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Big Drama with a nice sprinter of his own, Custom for Carlos, when a small field shows up Saturday at Gulfstream in the Grade 3, $100,000 Mr. Prospector at six furlongs.

“He’s training great, and I’m very happy with him,” Kenneally said early this week from his training base at Palm Meadows near Boynton Beach.

Custom for Carlos is the defending champion in the Mr. Prospector, having won last January as the even-money favorite. But he has a formidable foe Saturday in Big Drama, who is likely to be named the Eclipse champion sprinter when the awards are announced Monday night in Miami Beach.

“If we can beat Big Drama first time back, who knows?” Kenneally said. “But the horse does love the track there at Gulfstream, and we’ve got him very sharp right now.”

Custom for Carlos had just two more starts in 2010. He was a close second in the Toboggan at Aqueduct and then won the Count Fleet at Oaklawn in April before a hoof injury suffered in his stall the day prior to the June 6 True North at Belmont Park forced him to the sidelines. The 5-year-old horse has had nine recorded workouts since being shipped to Palm Meadows in November, including several recent bullets.

“We gave him plenty of time after that unfortunate mishap in New York,” said Kenneally, who ended the Churchill fall meet by winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes with Santiva, a Kentucky Derby hopeful expected to make his 3-year-old debut in the Feb. 26 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream. “We’re just excited to have him back ready to run.”

Besides Custom for Carlos and Big Drama, Gulfstream racing officials are expecting just a few more starters for the 56th running of the Mr. Prospector, including Peace at Dawn and either or both of the Nick Zito duo of Cool Coal Man and Our Edge.

Julien Leparoux will ride Custom for Carlos, while Eibar Coa will be back aboard Big Drama.

The filly-mare counterpart to the Mr. Prospector also is set for Saturday: the Sugar Swirl, which also is a Grade 3, $100,000 race at six furlongs. Jessica Is Back and Moontune Missy, ninth and 12th, respectively, in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, could be the favorites in a medium-sized field in the Sugar Swirl.

Entries for both stakes were to be drawn Wednesday.

The Sunday card will feature one stakes, the $100,000 Dania Beach for 3-year-old turf runners.

Joey P., Sassy Image on Friday card

At least a couple of notable horses will compete on the 10-race card here Friday, including millionaire Joey P. and multiple stakes winner Sassy Image.

Joey P., trained by Ben Perkins Jr., will make his 43rd career start when entered for a $62,500 claiming tag when facing eight other older horses in the fifth race at six furlongs.

Sassy Image will be returning from a layoff of more than 10 months when meeting seven other fillies and mares in the ninth race at one mile. Sassy Image, a 4-year-old trained by Dale Romans, won the Pocahontas and Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill and the Sweetest Chant at Gulfstream before being soundly beaten last February in the Davona Dale.

◗ One of the welcome features to the new 50-cent pick five is that Gulfstream is displaying on television monitors the number of live tickets after each leg of the wager. The pick five proved instantly popular when drawing strong handle during the meet’s first week.

◗ Arlington racing secretary Chris Polzin has been on a recruiting trip in south Florida in recent days to visit with horsemen stabled at Gulfsteam and Palm Meadows. The 2011 Arlington meet starts May 6.