01/09/2010 12:00AM

Munnings needs fast footing for best

Vanessa Ng/NYRA
Munnings won the Grade 2 Tom Fool at Belmont in July before finishing third in three straight races on sloppy tracks.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Todd Pletcher has just one wish when it comes to Saturday's $100,000 Mr. Prospector Handicap: That the Grade 3 dash be run over a fast track.

Pletcher will send out Munnings as the favorite against eight rivals in the six-furlong Mr. Prospector, one of three graded stakes and five stakes overall to be decided on Saturday's inaugural Gulfstream Park Sprint Showcase.

Munnings caught sloppy racetracks in his last three starts as a 3-year-old in 2009, each of those races Grade 1 events. Munnings, a son of Speightstown, performed creditably enough to finish third on all three occasions, including the six-furlong , when he was beaten four lengths by Kodiak Kowboy to close out his season on Oct. 3.

"He ran well enough in those races, but he's better on a fast track," said Pletcher. "If the track comes up sloppy on Saturday, it's possible I might scratch him."

Munnings did win 2 of his 6 starts in 2009, including the against older horses. He was scheduled to close out the campaign in the Cigar Mile but missed the race because of a minor injury.

"We skipped the Breeders' Cup because it was run at Santa Anita over a synthetic surface and the only bad race he's run in his career came at Santa Anita over a synthetic surface," Pletcher said, referring to the 2008 Breeders' Cup Juvenile. "The plan was to run him in the Cigar, but he bruised a foot prior to the race. He's trained well since he's come down here. Seven furlongs is probably his optimum distance, but he's run against the best of the best and hopefully this race will set him up for the next one on Feb. 13," meaning the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship.

Although Munnings holds a significant class edge in the Mr. Prospector, the field is a good one and also includes the Grade 1-placed Past the Point and Grade 3 stakes winner Custom for Carlos.

Past the Point will make his first start since being transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin late last year. The 6-year-old closed out his 2009 campaign for his previous trainer, Eoin Harty, with a second-place finish in the , but like Munnings may be better at seven furlongs than six.

Custom for Carlos is coming off a 3 3/4-length victory in the Bet on Sunshine Handicap at Churchill Downs in his 2009 finale. His most important win was a 6 1/4-length triumph in Monmouth's Grade 3 Jersey Shore.