01/15/2012 3:36PM

Gulfstream: Long-idle Private Jet hardly looks rusty in Gulfstream Turf Sprint

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Bob Coglianese
Private Jet, making his first start in 16 months, takes the Gulfsteam Park Turf Sprint under John Velazquez.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -  Sixteen months off?  No problem for Private Jet, who returned from the long layoff to win his U.S. debut when he rallied to a one-length victory over even-money favorite Great Attack in Sunday’s $60,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint.

Private Jet, a Group 1 winner in South Africa early in his career, had been training for his return with trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s Belmont Park string and did not ship down from New York until just six days before the race. Now 7,  Private Jet had not started since Sept. 24, 2010 in South Africa.

As expected, Little Nick set the pace following an alert start while pressed by Marquet Cat from along the inside.  Jockey John Velazquez, who captured Saturday’s Grade 3 Hal’s Hope aboard Jackson Bend, allowed Private Jet to bide his time behind the leaders until settling into the stretch. Private Jet then shot through a hole to wrest control near the sixteenth pole and won going clear. 

Great Attack, making his first start since finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, advanced three-wide to challenge the dueling leaders nearing the stretch, continued on willingly but could not withstand the winner while, as usual, finishing on his left lead. Little Nick was third, another 1 ¼ lengths farther back.

Private Jet, who is owned by Joe Brocklebank, completed five furlongs in 55.48 seconds over the firm course and paid $20.20 in a field that scratched down to just five starters from an original field of eight.

“We’re very proud of him to run like that after such a long layoff,” said McLaughlin. “He had breathing problems and has since had surgery. It’s great to see what he can do when he can breathe.”