01/21/2009 12:00AM

Jet Propulsion: Long gone?

Jim Lisa
Jet Propulsion won three stakes victories, but his career was put on hold for most of 2008 while he recuperated from a virus.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Lone speed is always dangerous, especially if the horse getting loose on the lead is a Grade 3 winner taking on allowance competition such as Jet Propulsion in Wednesday's $48,000 feature over one mile of turf at Gulfstream Park.

Jet Propulsion has registered three stakes victories, including Calder's Grade 3 Miami Mile Handicap during spring 2007. His career was put on hold, however, for most of 2008 while he recuperated from a virus that lingered stubbornly for much of the spring and summer. Jet Propulsion finally returned from a nine-month layoff to finish second behind Mambo Meister under optional claiming conditions at Calder on Nov. 21 before ending the campaign with an easy four-length triumph over similar opposition one month later.

"He lost about 60 pounds while on the farm recovering from the virus and really wasn't 100 percent fit for his first start back," trainer Dan Hurtak said. "He was in hand at the end when he won the second time, and while he still hasn't gained back all the weight, I expect him to improve even further with those two starts under his belt and be really dangerous in this race."

Jet Propulsion's competition Wednesday will again include Mambo Meister, who followed his impressive allowance win at Calder with a sixth-place finish in the Ft. Lauderdale here Jan. 10, a race in which he was defeated just a length despite early trouble. Mambo Meister must concede five pounds to Jet Propulsion in the rematch.

The stakes-quality field also includes Minister's Joy, Fearless Eagle, Archers Alyancer, Hyracotherium, Fair Weather Stan, Hellvelyn, Sligovitz, and Ruff and Ready.

Cool Coal Man, winner of the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth here last winter, is entered for the main track only.

Ruff and Ready should relish the return to a Gulfstream turf course over which he is undefeated in two previous tries. The 7-year-old son of More Than Ready posted back-to-back triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures winning an allowance race and then an overnight stakes for trainer Todd Pletcher last winter but has not started since finishing a wide-running fourth behind Silver Tree in Monmouth Park's Grade 3 Oceanport on Aug. 3.

Minister's Joy also is fond of the local surface, having registered a pair of wins in five starts over the Gulfstream turf course, including a last-to-first head decision under allowance conditions one year ago.